Valencia leads Ecuador to 2-0 win over hosts Qatar in World Cup opener

Valencia leads Ecuador to 2-0 win over hosts Qatar in World Cup opener

The first World Cup in the Middle East finally began on Sunday night with a flashy opening ceremony and a match between Qatar and Ecuador.

Enner Valencia's two first-half goals led Ecuador to a dominant 2-0 victory over Qatar on Sunday as the home nation froze on their big night with an error-strewn display that left them as the first World Cup hosts to lose their opening game.

Valencia, who had already had a third-minute header ruled out by VAR for offside, slotted in the tournament's opening goal from the penalty spot in the 16th minute after being brought down by nervous-looking goalkeeper Saad Alsheeb.

He powered home a 31st-minute header for the second and the South Americans then cruised home as an outclassed Qatar struggled to mount any meaningful attacks and had only a fluffed header by Almoez Ali to show for their limited efforts.

The other teams in Group A, Senegal and the Netherlands, meet in one of three games on Monday.

The first World Cup in the Middle East finally began on Sunday night with a flashy opening ceremony and a match between Qatar and Ecuador.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Saudi Arabia's crown prince, presidents of Egypt, Turkey and Algeria, as well as the United Nations Secretary-General, were among leaders who attended the opening ceremony in a tent-shaped stadium.

Qatar's state-run news agency announced Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's presence in the country, as well as other world leaders. It said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, Senegalese President Macky Sall, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Rwandan President Paul Kagame had arrived in Doha.

Kuwait's crown prince also arrived, along with the director-general of the World Health Organisation and Djibouti's president. Meanwhile, Iran sent just its minister of youth and sports.

At Al Bayt Stadium, people began filing inside, including Qatari supporters in crisp white thobes and women in black abayas. A troupe performed a sword dance.

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