Ecuador hit back to hold Netherlands to a 1-1 draw in the second game of their Group A campaign at the 2022 World Cup, and in the process knock out hosts Qatar.
The result means neither side has yet qualified for the last 16, although it does eliminate Qatar – who had lost 3-1 to Senegal earlier in the day.
Cody Gakpo’s second goal of the tournament put Netherlands ahead early on, but Ecuador hit back at the start of the second half through Enner Valencia. The former West Ham striker notched his third of the tournament, but there were concerns for him late on as he was forced off on a stretcher with a knee injury.
It leaves the Netherlands needing a point against Qatar in their final group game on Tuesday, while Ecuador will also progress if they avoid defeat against Senegal.
Big moments in the game…
- 6mins: Cody Gakpo’s fierce drive puts Netherlands into an early lead.
- 45+3mins: Ecuador think they’ve levelled but Pervis Estupinan’s effort is ruled out for offside.
- 49mins: Enner Valencia scores his third of the World Cup from close range to equalise for Ecuador.
- 59mins: Gonzalo Plata goes within inches of putting Ecuador in front as he rattles the crossbar.
- 90mins: Concern for Ecuador as Valencia is forced off on a stretcher with a knee injury.
Netherlands start fast but Ecuador fire back
Gakpo broke through for the Netherlands with six minutes to go in their opener against Senegal, but against Ecuador – a team that were on a run of seven clean sheets in a row – it took him until just the sixth minute.
The PSV Eindhoven forward picked up Davy Klaasen’s pass on the edge of the box before taking two touches to tee himself up and then slamming one inside Hernan Galindez’s near post.
Ecuador thought they had the lead just before the break as Estupinan flicked home Angelo Preciado’s shot from the edge of the box, but Jackson Porozo was deemed to be interfering with goalkeeper Andries Noppert’s view as it went in, and the goal was ruled out for offside.
But Ecuador were not to be denied the equaliser after 49 minutes, as Noppert could only palm Estupinan’s shot into the path of Valencia, who had the freedom of the six-yard box to prod into an empty net. Again there was a VAR check for offside, but the striker was comfortably on.
Valencia joins esteemed company
Enner Valencia is just the fourth player ever to score six consecutive goals for a nation in the competition, along with Eusébio for Portugal in 1966, Paolo Rossi for Italy in 1982 and Oleg Salenko for Russia in 1994.
The South Americans almost completed a turnaround on 59 minutes as the ball fell to Gonzalo Plata in the box and he thundered one off the crossbar before it bounced clear. Noppert was well beaten.
An excellent second half ended with real concern for Ecuador, however, as Valencia was forced off injured on a stretcher.
Gakpo shines but Dutch lack quality besides
Gakpo opened the scoring again for Netherlands – just as he did in the opener – with a very different type of goal than his first of the tournament.
It showed the range of his talent and why he is emerging as one of the stars in Qatar, but the concern for the Dutch and Louis van Gaal will be the lack of quality they have around him.
Steven Berwign and Davy Klaassen were ineffectual, while Memphis Depay didn’t look entirely match fit when he came off the bench for the second half. Unless your name is Diego Maradona, one man cannot win a World Cup.
Player of the match – Pervis Estupinan
He thought he scored the equaliser at the end of the first half, only to be denied by the offside flag, but his strike created the leveller in the end as Valencia capitalised on his effort being saved.
The Brighton wing-back was also a menacing presence with his marauding runs down the left as Ecuador opened up in the second half. For those that weren’t already aware of him, the 24-year-old looks yet another shrewd addition by the Premier League club as a replacement for Marc Cucurella following his departure to Chelsea.
What does the result mean?
The result eliminated Qatar from the competition. Netherlands need a point against the hosts to progress to the last 16. Should they achieve that then it will be a straight fight between Ecuador and Senegal for the other spot. Ecuador only need a draw, while Senegal would require a victory to progress.