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Ecuador coach Gustavo Alfaro: This is just the beginning for us

Ecuador easily defeated hosts Qatar in the opening game of the Qatar 2022 World Cup thanks to two Enner Valencia goals

Roddy Cons
Ecuador easily defeated hosts Qatar in the opening game of the Qatar 2022 World Cup thanks to two Enner Valencia goals
Richard SellersGetty

Ecuador have stormed to the top of Group A after day one of the 2022 World Cup thanks to a comfortable 2-0 victory over host nation Qatar, with captain Enner Valencia scoring twice.

La Tri had a goal ruled out for a narrow offside call in the early stages but wasted little time in stamping their authority on the game, with Fenerbahce strike Valencia winning and the converting a penalty after 15 minutes. Gustavo Alfaro’s men never looked back from that moment on and a superb header from Valencia, who has now scored Ecuador’s last five World Cup goals across three tournaments, put them on easy street.

Qatar never looked capable of mounting a comeback, with Tri goalkeeper Hernán Galíndez not having a single save to make in the 90 minutes. The only possible reason for any unhappiness within the Ecuadorian camp is that Valencia was forced off towards the end of the match with a knock that he had picked just before half-time. With five days until his team’s next match against the Netherlands, Alfaro will be praying that his main marksman recovers in time.

Ecuador coach Gustavo Alfaro: I hope this is the start of something big

Alfaro was unsurprisingly full of praise for his men, whose were in total control of the contest from the word go: “I have to give the team credit for their attitude, commitment, the way they played, the way they kept going. Especially after we suffered that setback at the start of the game with the goal that was disallowed for offside. We kept going after that. I think we were really clear winners, we won convincingly. I hope it’s the start of something big, which is what we wanted.”

Qatar the first host nation to lose an opening World Cup game

The former Boca Junior manager also appeared to allude to the fact that the host nation had never been beaten in the opening game of a World Cup tournament, while emphasising the importance of getting off to a good start:

It was the most important game of the World Cup for us. Not only were we kicking off the tournament against the host nation, we had to fight against history, which sometimes works in your favour or sometimes goes against you, depending on certain things. But this group of players is above that. They’ll really committed, which what allowed us to win this game.”

Ecuador’s remaining two group games will see them face the Netherlands on Friday, 25 November and Senegal on Tuesday, 20 November. And Alfaro isn’t getting carried away, with bigger tests up ahead:

But this is just the beginning for us. We need to show that we’re capable of doing it again in the upcoming matches.”

Check out our World Cup special, with analysis of every team.