FOOTBALL – The 2022 FIFA World Cup kicked off at the Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar. Ecuador faced hosts, Qatar in the opening game in front of a capacity audience of 60,000 and with television world streaming. More than half the world population was watching.
The pre-match entertainment featured an amazing fire and light show with a massive replica of the World Cup Trophy in the centre of the pitch. As the teams lined up in the tunnel with the mascots, the president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino gave his opening welcome and thank you speech.
When the National Anthems ended, the special effects were removed, and the pennants exchange…it was time to begin the 22nd World Cup. Qatar kicked off!
Within the first 2 minutes of play, Ecuador were awarded a free kick in the Qatar half following a clumsy tackle on Caicedo. Number 13 for Ecuador, Valencia put the ball in the back of the net following some scrappy play in the box with the Qatar Goalkeeper. Saad came out way too far and left his goal unattended. However, VAR made the controversial decision that the goal was disallowed for offside.
After 14 minutes, the Saad made yet another dreadful mistake. He came out for the ball and dived to the ground. He totally missed the ball with his outstretched left hand. Instead, he used his right hand to grab the leg of Valencia causing him to lose the ball and fall. Consequently, the referee showed the yellow card to Saad Al Sheeb and awarded Ecuador the penalty. Valencia stepped up, wrong footed the Goalkeeper sending him to the left, as he neatly placed the ball in the bottom right hand corner.
This time the goal for Ecuador stood. It was officially 0-1!
The superior side
The remainder of the first half continued with Ecador by far the superior side.
Then at the 30-minute mark, Valencia scored his second goal of the match with a spectacular header into the bottom corner of the net. Plenty of yellow cards had been issued at this point, mainly against Qatar for bad or clumsy tackles. Furthermore, Valencia was the unfortunate target of many fouls. Just before half time, he was helped off the park to recover another foul. Five minutes were added for stoppage time in the first half. Then, seconds before the half-time whistle, Ali of Qatar missed a “sitter” right in front of the goal.
The first half ended 0-2 to Ecuador with No 13, Valencia having secured both goals.
The first chance in the second half came just 5 minutes in, but the Qatar defenders prevented a third goal. A series of chances followed, but were also denied. Qatar also had some chances as they seemed to have “upped” their game in the second half. However, this was to no avail.
After 75 minutes, Valencia limped off the park and ended his first World Cup 2022 appearance.
In the last third of the game, there were more chances for both sides. Qatar came closest in the 86th minute, when Muntari sent the ball just over the bar.
Five minutes were added for stoppage time in the second hald. However, it remained goalless, and the match ended 0-2.
The next game in the World Cup schedule will be England v Iran. Over the next three days, the following matches will be played:
Monday November 21
England v Iran 2.00 pm
Senegal v Netherlands 5.00 pm
USA v Wales 8.00 pm
Tuesday November 22
Argentina v Saudi Arabia 11.00 am
Denmark v Tunisia 2.00 pm
Mexico v Poland 5.00 pm
France v Australia 8.00 pm
Wednesday November 23
Morocco v Croatia 11.00 am
Germany v Japan 2.00 pm
Spain v Costa Rica 5.00 pm
Belguim v Canada 8.00 pm
Also read: Full World Cup coverage