Enner Valencia living the dream after firing Ecuador to World Cup win over Qatar

Striker scored both goals in the opening 2-0 victory against the hosts on Sunday

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Enner Valencia said it was a dream come true to lead Ecuador to victory in their opening match of the 2022 World Cup after the South Americans eased past hosts Qatar on Sunday.

Valencia scored both goals in the 2-0 win at Al Bayt Stadium to give Ecuador the ideal start in Group A.

The Fenerbahce forward broke the deadlock from the penalty spot after 16 minutes, before doubling his team's advantage with a glancing header just after the half-hour mark. He had the ball in the back of the net even earlier but his third-minute goal was ruled out for a marginal offside.

"I dreamt so many times about winning this opening match. This was a dream that I managed to score and help my team get the three points," said Valencia, who has now scored five World Cup goals in total – a national record.

"We managed to score a couple of quick goals which helped us to get control of the game. We think we can go very far and perform well."

Ecuador, who took fourth place in South American qualifying, arrived in Qatar in fine form. Sunday's win over the World Cup hosts means they have lost just once in their past 16 matches and have kept seven successive clean sheets.

"It was a great victory, especially as it was the opening World Cup match, so there's more pressure and tension," Ecuador manager Gustavo Alfaro said.

"You don't know how your team is going to perform. We are the youngest team in this World Cup. If we want to move to the knockout stage, then we had to win this match."

Ecuador next face Netherlands on Friday before concluding their group campaign against Senegal next Tuesday.

Updated: November 21, 2022, 4:49 AM
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