Fifa World Cup 2022: Ecuador share point against Netherland as Qatar get knocked out of World Cup2 min read
Ecuador have earned a deserved 1-1 draw with Netherlands in their Group A fixture at the Khalifa International Stadium on Friday.
Cody Gakpo’s stunning early goal put the Dutch in front, only for Ecuador to enjoy the better of the contest and claim a share of the spoils through Enner Valencia.
While both teams remain unbeaten at this year’s World Cup, Senegal’s victory over Qatar earlier in the day means that they each only hold a one-point advantage over the Africa Cup of Nations champions.
Meanwhile, host nation Qatar are the first team eliminated from the competition ahead of their final encounter versus the Netherlands on Tuesday.
Ecuador went into the contest defending a seven-match streak without conceding a goal, yet it took just six minutes for Gakpo to end that run in emphatic style.
After collecting the ball on the edge of the area, Gakpo moved to his left before unleashing an unstoppable drive inside the near post of Hernan Galindez’s post from outside of the penalty area.
Aside from that strike, one of the best of the World Cup so far, goalmouth action was few and few between, and it was the Netherlands who had to be alert in defence as Ecuador begun to send crosses into the box with regularity.
The South American nation continued to ask the questions as the clock ticked past the half-hour mark with Andries Noppert needing to dive to his right to keep out a decent Valencia effort from distance.
Just before half time, Ecuador thought they had equalised when Pervis Estupinan diverted Angelo Preciado’s shot into the net from an onside position but Jackson Porozo – standing offside – was deemed to have blocked Noppert’s view and the goal was chalked off.
However, moments after the restart, Ecuador had the goal that their industry deserved, Valencia converting from close range after Noppert had brilliantly saved Estupinan’s effort which had been heading for the far corner.
Valencia had a record-breaking seven successive Ecuadorian World Cup strikes in his sights, but he would have willingly given that up to see Gonzalo Plata’s stunning left-footed strike find the top corner rather than the underside of the crossbar.
After that flurry of energy from La Tricolor, chances began to dry up for both sides, each aware that a draw would leave their fate in their own hands on matchday three.
As the match looked to be petering out, Ecuador were handed a potentially pivotal blow when Valencia went down injured without anyone around him before being stretchered off with an apparent recurrence of the knee issue that he sustained against Qatar.
The 33-year-old was later seen on the substitutes’ bench with an ice pack on that area, naturally making him a doubt for Tuesday’s encounter with Senegal.