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Ecuador Bests Qatar in World Cup Opener


Ecuador's forward Enner Valencia (L) scores his team's first goal from the penalty spot as Qatar's goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb eyes the ball during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group A opener at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, north of Doha on November 20, 2022.

Qatar became the first World Cup hosts in history to lose their opening match, going down 2-0 to Ecuador on Sunday as football's showpiece got under way after 12 years of preparations.

Once the action began, reigning Asian champions Qatar were easily beaten.

Ecuador thought they had made a dream start within three minutes when they silenced the home fans as Enner Valencia headed in, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR for offside in the build-up.

Thirteen minutes later, Ecuador did take the lead after Valencia dribbled round Qatari goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb who grabbed his shin and the referee pointed to the spot. Valencia coolly rolled home the penalty.

Valencia added a second goal to seal Ecuador's 2-0 win.

A crowd of 67,372 packed into the impressive Al Bayt Stadium, modeled on a traditional Bedouin tent, for the opening ceremony.

South Korean K-pop star Jung Kook headlined the 30-minute spectacle that featured Hollywood star Morgan Freeman giving a message of diversity.

Ghanim Al-Muftah, a Qatari activist for the disabled, born with the rare Caudal Regression Syndrome, appeared with Freeman and stated to the crowd: "Everyone is welcome".

With FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman watching, Qatar's Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani told the crowd: "We will follow with the whole world, God willing, the great football festival in this open space for human and civilized communication."

Qatar coach Felix Sanchez said "the atmosphere was one of great expectation. We are sorry that we could not be part of the party, but we knew that this scenario could happen... We will try to learn".

The Al-Bayt venue is one of an array of new stadiums built for the most expensive World Cup in history.

Qatar has spent $200 billion on a remarkable construction project to host the World Cup after the tiny Gulf state shocked the football world by winning the right to host the tournament in 2010.

A crowd of 67,372 packed into the impressive Al Bayt Stadium, modelled on a traditional Bedouin tent, for the opening ceremony.

U.S. actor Morgan Freeman (L) and Qatari YouTuber Ghanim al Muftah attend the opening ceremony ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, north of Doha on November 20, 2022.
U.S. actor Morgan Freeman (L) and Qatari YouTuber Ghanim al Muftah attend the opening ceremony ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, north of Doha on November 20, 2022.

South Korean K-pop star Jung Kook headlined the 30-minute spectacle that featured Hollywood star Morgan Freeman giving a message of diversity.

Ghanim Al-Muftah, a Qatari activist for the disabled, born with the rare Caudal Regression Syndrome, appeared with Freeman and stated to the crowd: "Everyone is welcome".

With FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman watching, Qatar's Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani told the crowd: "We will follow with the whole world, God willing, the great football festival in this open space for human and civilized communication."

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