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Qatar came close to humiliation for their home World Cup opener. The Gulf team lost 2-0 to a simply superior Ecuador.

Difficult first match in its history at the World Cup for Qatar. Playing at home was not enough to avoid a stinging defeat against Ecuador (0-2) who did not have to force their talent to win thanks to a double from their captain Valencia.

In a context of recurring criticism against Qatar in terms of respect for human rights, the organizers had wanted to place the opening ceremony under the sign of “respect and inclusion”, according to their press release. All in a magnificent setting, the Al-Bayt stadium in Al-Khor, 50 kilometers north of Doha, designed to recall Bedouin tents. An intention perfectly executed for this 60,000-person stadium, built especially for the World Cup.

“People of different races, nationalities, creeds and orientations will come together here in Qatar and around screens on every continent,” the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, said. “How beautiful it is for people to put aside what separates them to preserve their diversity and what unites them at the same time.”

Valencia quickly showers Qatar

However, if the ceremony, which saw the appearance of the former mascots of the World Cup and part of the ceremony was provided by the singer of K-Pop Jungkook of the group BTS, was unanimous, the match quickly cooled the footballing passion of the Qataris.

From the third minute, goalkeeper Al-Sheeb made a hazardous exit. Ecuadorians take advantage of this. Torres delivers an acrobatic pass to Valencia who ends up with a header into the empty net. But the VAR signals an offside.

Never mind, 10 minutes later, Valencia, launched behind the Qatari defence, appeared alone in front of Al-Sheeb who grabbed him. Referee Daniele Orsato does not hesitate and points to the penalty spot. Valencia does justice to itself (15th, 1-0).

While the Ecuadorians are content to spin the ball, Valencia wakes up the spectators by doubling the bet. He pops up to head back a cross from Preciado (31st, 2-0) with a header at the far post.

Sure of their superiority against the Qataris, the Tri let boredom set in but failed to be surprised with an offensive from the locals. A good cross from Al-Haydos finds Ali, whose header misses (45’+5). A cheap warning before half-time.

The warning seems to have been received since when they return from the locker room, the Tri picks up the pace. The Qatari goalkeeper must be busy to stop an attempt by Ibarra who had fixed Al-Rawi. Al-Shheb flew to his left to make his first parade of the match (55th).

A simple impression since the match quickly gets bogged down again in a false rhythm which struggles to captivate the spectators. The Yellows cultivate their advantage against the too timid Garnets. Alone, Muntari awakens Qatari hopes. Present when the ball falls 25 meters from goal, he instantly tries a half-volley and the ball goes just over the Ecuadorian goal (85th).

The match will have sent Qatar back to its lessons with the humiliation of being the first host country to lose its inaugural match. The gap seems abysmal between the 2019 Asian champion and the rest of the World Cup. For Ecuador, on the other hand, it is a good operation: the Latin American nation is putting pressure on its future opponents in Group A, the Netherlands and Senegal, who face each other on Monday.

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