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Qatar 2022 is a World Cup of firsts.

It is the first World Cup to be held in an Arab nation, as well as FIFA’s first winter World Cup.

The result of Sunday’s game between Qatar and Ecuador provided another first.

Qatar became the first host nation ever to be beaten in a tournament’s opening game.

They were soundly beaten by Ecuador too.

Ecuador captain Enner Valencia scored two goals and had another disallowed inside the opening 32 minutes.

It took Valencia less than three minutes to find the net for the first time, but his header following an acrobatic assist from Felix Torres was ruled out for offside following a long VAR review.

The decision to disallow Valencia’s opener took a lot of viewers by surprise as he had not looked clearly offside to the naked eye.

But any conspiracy theories about the officials favoring the host nation were extinguished 10 minutes later when Ecuador were awarded a penalty kick for a foul by Qatar keeper Saad Al Sheeb.

Valencia had been the man fouled and it was he who stepped up to score the tournament’s first goal.

The former Everton and West Ham forward struck again before the half-time interval when he headed home from an Angelo Preciado cross.

Valencia has now scored each of Ecuador’s last five World Cup goals.

The Qatari national team had been training together since September in a bid to impress on their first ever appearance at a World Cup.

But they will likely need to play a lot better against fellow Group A sides Holland and Senegal if they are to avoid becoming the first ever host nation to claim zero points.

Ecuador are now unbeaten in their last eight matches, including a World Cup qualifier against Argentina.

Since drawing 1-1 with Argentina in March, Ecuador have kept seven straight clean sheets, with four of those games ending 0-0.

Source: Robert Summerscales

www.sports24ghana.com

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