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Arabian night of sadness for host as Ecuador celebrate opening day victory

By Christian Okpara
21 November 2022   |   4:39 am
One of the most awaited moments of any World Cup finally arrived, yesterday, at the Al Bayt Stadium in the city of Jor. But in an Arabian Night themed opening day, Qatar created an unwanted history ...

Ecuador’s captain, Enner Valencia, wheels away after scoring his team’s second goal against Qatar in the opening game of the 2022 World Cup…yesterday.

One of the most awaited moments of any World Cup finally arrived, yesterday, at the Al Bayt Stadium in the city of Jor. But in an Arabian Night themed opening day, Qatar created an unwanted history by becoming the first host country to kick off the World Cup with a loss.

The match came shortly after a spectacular opening ceremony in which Colombian singer, Shakira and Dua Lipa led members of BTS, who made their debut on the World Cup opening stage. U.S. actor, Morgan Freeman, commanded the show as the world was ushered into the games of the 2022 World Cup.

In the eagerly anticipated opening game, Ecuador proved too tough for Qatar, hitting them two times in the first half. The result would have been 3-0 if not for the disqualification of a third-minute goal scored by man of the match, Enner Valencia.

Inspired by Captain Valencia, who struck twice within 30 minutes, Ecuador ended the opening game surer of making it out of Group A.

This was Qatar’s first-ever World Cup match and it showed as Ecuador dominated the remaining 60 minutes to seal a comfortable victory.

With less than five minutes on the clock, captain Valencia thought he had given the South Americans an early lead after some questionable defending by the Qataris.

However, VAR intervened to save Qatar’s blushes, as an Ecuador player’s knee was marginally offside.

The decision initially caused confusion as the player was not totally visible to TV cameras and the goalkeeper was acting as the second-last defender.

It did not matter much, in the end, as Valencia put Ecuador in front moments later. The former Premier League forward, who was taken down by goalkeeper Al-Sheeb inside the box, the goalkeeper the wrong way to convert the resulting penalty inside 15 minutes.

That goal made Valencia Ecuador’s highest-ever World Cup goal scorer – and he wasn’t done yet. He doubled his country’s lead with an outrageous header on 30 minutes to give Ecuador the first three points of the 2022 World Cup.

Earlier, in opening spectacle of lights, fireworks and mysticism transported the 50, 000-plus spectators at the Bedouin tent-shaped Al Bayt Stadium into the surreal world of Arabian Nights.

The gravitas lent by the booming voice of Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman juxtaposed snuggly with the official song Dreamer crooned by Jung Kook, the dream boy of every teenage girl and the youngest member of South Korean boyband, BTS.

Freeman, Jung Kook, mascots of the past editions and the freewheeling La’eeb – a mix of Casper the friendly ghost and the Pillsbury man – gave Qatar and this World Cup something to dream about. And the fans, too, missing in the streets of Doha, made a miraculous presence in the stands, finally bringing in the festivities that every host yearns for.

Tomorrow promises more excitement as some of the top teams will be in actions. The day will begin with a Group A clash between Holland and Senegal, before England tackle Iran and U.S. battle with Wales in Group B.

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