Valencia stars for Ecuador in comfortable win over hosts Qatar in World Cup opener

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Valencia stars for Ecuador in comfortable win over hosts Qatar in World Cup opener
Updated
Valencia stars for Ecuador in comfortable win over hosts Qatar in World Cup opener
Valencia stars for Ecuador in comfortable win over hosts Qatar in World Cup opener
StatsPerform, Reuters
Two first half goals from Enner Valencia helped Ecuador to a well-deserved 2-0 win over hosts Qatar, who, despite so much preparation, failed to compete against a superior South American side at Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday night.

19:04 CET: Let's take one final look at the match stats, powered by StatsPerform. On paper, a game that looks more even than it appeared.

Final match stats from Qatar against Ecuador
StatsPerform

19:02 CET: A performance that will worry Qatari fans, Ecuador rarely got out of second gear as they cruised to an important three points in Group A - check out our report from the opening game of the World Cup, written by Danny Lewis.

19:00 CET: That's the end of the game - Ecuador comfortably take care of Qatar with both goals coming in the first half from Enner Valencia. Look out for our report, which will be dropping very soon.

Second Half 

18:53 CET: Two more late changes for Ecuador. Captain Michael Estrada makes way for Kevin Rodriguez and Moises Caicedo is replaced by Alan Franco. There will be five minutes of stoppage time left in the game.

18:50 CET: Close from Qatar! Sub Muntari latches onto a long ball and shows some great technique, firing a half volley just over the bar from 25 metres out. The net rippled but on the wrong side of the bar, time running out for the hosts in this one.

18:49 CET: Enner Valencia, the only scorer in this World Cup opener, is now on the bench with a large ice pack around his knee. With such a quick turnaround between games in this tournament, it will be a race against time to get him fully for their encounter against the Netherlands on Friday. On the pitch there is five minutes of the 90 left.

18:43 CET: It should be three! Ecuador break down the left and the ball breaks to substitute Sarmiento in the box with the goal at his mercy but he can fire over from close range.

18:39 CET: Striker Akram Afif takes fly from range, which brings a roar from the crowd, but the effort is high and wide. It seems unlikely that the hosts can find their way back into this one. In more worrying news for Ecuador, Enner Valencia, the current match winner, finally succumbs to the knee knock he picked up in the first half, replaced by Jose Adoni Cifuentes. He is a midfielder, so perhaps its time for them to shut up shop.

18:35 CET: Qatar make a double change with Mohammed Muntari and Mohammed Waad coming on for captain Hasan Al Haydos and Almoez Ali. It looks like a straight swap for the hosts.

18:31 CET: First change of the game comes from Ecuador as Jeremy Sarmiento replaces Romario Ibarra with 22 minutes to go. Sarmiento joins two of his Brighton & Hove Albion teammates on the field in Pervis Estupinan and Moises Caicedo. 

18:26 CET: Pedro Miguel goes close for Qatar. Perhaps their best effort of the game, the right back arrives late at the back post to head narrowly wide. A glimmer of hope for the hosts. There are 30 minutes left in this contest.

18:24 CET: Angelo Preciado, the crosser for the second goal, is down receiving treatment for Ecuador. This looks a painful one to his right knee.

18:19 CET: Ecuador threaten again down the left, this time through Romario Ibarra, who forces a save from the Qatar keeper. Moments later Jhegson Mendez picks up a yellow card for a late foul. Qatar have picked up three bookings so far, Ecuador two.

18:13 CET: The difference in strength between the two teams has been really noticeable throughout the game. Ecuador have won so many second balls and aerial duels, giving Qatar no chance to settle on the ball. No chances for either side five minutes into the half, but Qatar are trying their best to push forward. So far, no reward.

18:08 CET: We are back under way at Al Bayt Stadium for the second half of the opening game. No changes at the break, meaning Valencia is feeling good enough with his knee to continue.

Half Time - Qatar 0 Ecuador 2

18:05 CET: As the players head back out, just enough time for us to show you the momentum from the first half with our partners at StatsPerform. Very much one-way traffic. 

First half momentum between Qatar and Ecuador
StatsPerform

17:57 CET: Here are all the stats from the first half - Qatar will need to improve their shots on goal in the second 45 if they are to get back into the game.

First half statistics from Qatar
StatsPerform

17:52 CET: As the players head down the tunnel, the most impressive thing from the hosts has been off the field, with the fans making a good noise alongside the Ecuadorian faithful. Two goals from Enner Valencia have put the South American side in pole poisition for the three points, but that injury to their captain will be a huge concern at the break.

First Half 

17:51 CET: Qatar's best chance of the half comes right at the end as Almoez Ali can't connect with a header when at point blank range. It sums up Qatar's first half, where they failed to register one shot on target.

17:44 CET: Just before the break, there seems to be a lot of concern for Ecuador goalscorer and captain, Valencia, who has gone down with a knee injury and looks in some pain. The stretcher has come on for the striker, but he is back on his feet and looks like he will limp on to half time.

17:40 CET: A break in play before an Ecuador free kick, which comes to nothing, and the camera focuses on Qatar coach Felix Sanchez. He has been working on this project for five years and his side are by far the most prepared for their home tournament. However as he covers his face with his hands, its safe to say he is cutting a disconsalate figure on the sidelines. What can he do to turn things around?

17:33 CET: A bullet header from Valencia gives Ecuador a 2-0 lead over Qatar after 31 minutes. The ball from Angelo Preciado is whipped in from the right to give the former West Ham striker a golden chance to double their advantage and he makes no mistake. Can Qatar find a way back in this game?

17:32 CET: GOAL FOR ECUADOR. VALENCIA AGAIN.

17:30 CET: It hasn't been a classic so far, as the stats prove.

Match stats after 30 minutes
StatsPerform

17:27 CET: A relatively good piece of possession for the hosts - their first of the game - but they don't seem up to breaking down an organised Ecuador defence. At the other end, it has been chaotic from Qatar, who seem to be suffering hugely from nerves on what will be the biggest game of their players' lives. 

17:18 CET: GOAL TO ECUADOR! This time Enner Valencia can't be denied, slotting home his penalty with ease, giving Ecuador a deserved lead over Qatar in the 16th minute.

17:17 CET: PENALTY TO ECUADOR - A rash challenge from Qatar keeper Saad Al Sheeb brings down Daniele Orsato for a clear penalty. He picks up a booking for his troubles.

17:13 CET: After their disallowed goal, Ecuador have been firmly on top against the hosts with 13 minutes played. With their first corner, they can't beat the first player and the Qatari crowd roar their approval. That is all they may have to cheer about for some time if things continue like this.

17:03 CET: Ener Valencia wheels away to celebrate the opening goal of the tournament, after a huge mistake from a nervous Qatar side. However the goal is disallowed for an apparent offside, a controversial decision that will certainly get people talking already.

17:00 CET:  Qatar kick us off in front of more 40,000 spectators in what is a pretty raucous atmosphere.

Introduction

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