Long balls, crosses and shots from distance: how Stats Zone saw Honduras 1-2 Ecuador
In the battle of two Group E teams who lost their opening games, Honduras took the lead through Carlos Costly but lost from a winning position - the seventh time that has happened at this World Cup - through two goals from Ecuador's Enner Valencia. Still-pointless Honduras now need to beat Switzerland by two clear goals and hope that Ecuador lose to France, who have already qualified for the last 16 with eight goals from two impressive performances.
Although the opening was well-balanced, Ecuador shaded possession (52.9%).
Honduras broke the deadlock - and a 32-year goalscoring duck at World Cup finals - with a Route One goal: goalkeeper Noel Valladares hoofs it forward, Carlos Costly pulls it out of the air and lashes it past Alexander Dominguez. Boof.
The lead lasted three minutes. Gambling with a far-post run, Enner Valencia stretched to convert a deflected cross from Juan Carlos Paredes.
By this point of a heated battle, with 59.9% possession Ecuador were well on top of the passing statistics (135 complete to Honduras's 71 - although it was something of a tallest-dwarf competition.
Honduras had an injury-time effort rightly disallowed for handball and/or offside, and at the whistle they had contributed more shots and more accurate shots.
Ecuador, though, had completed almost twice as many passes: 167 of 213 (78%) vs 84/132 (64%).
Passes in the final third were even more in Ecuador's favour: Final-third pass completion: ECU 43/65 (66%), HON 15/41 (36%).
As you'd expect from a team including Antonio Valencia, Ecuador were keen on crossing; only 1 of their 11 had reached its target, although this excludes their equaliser which came from a deflected cross.
Certainly neither side was shirking in the tackle...
... and Honduras had contributed an impressive 16 interceptions.
The first 15 minutes of the second half saw a switcharound: in vivid contrast to the first half, Honduras had much more of the ball and passed it much more than Ecuador.
On 62 minutes, Honduras ruffled the netting but again it was correctly disallowed for offside. Two minutes later, another cross, another Enner Valencia goal, this time from an excellent free-kick curled in by Walter Ayovi.
Content to be in the lead, Ecuador let Honduras have the ball: in the 15 minutes after scoring their second, they completed just 11 passes (from 21) compared to Honduras's 61 of 78.
Enner Valencia bulged the bag in injury-time but hat-trick dreams were dashed by the ref's whistle (which, in fairness, had been peeeping away for a full five seconds beforehand).
By the final whistle there was little between the teams, who each completed 249 passes; Honduras had 50.4% possession, one of the smallest margins at this year's World Cup.
Honduras also had more shots (17 to Ecuador's 10) and more on target (5 to 4)...
...but an astonishing 14 of those 17 shots were from outside the box, and that shoot-from-distance policy didn't work, with 9 sailing harmlessly off-target.
In a game best described as rugged, long balls were a frequent feature, making up 15.7% of Honduras's passes and 11.2% of Ecuador's.
Ecuador swung in an unusually high 23 crosses, and scored from 2 of them; 1 was deflected, but they will care not a jot about that.
Facts and figures
- Carlos Costly scored Honduras’ first goal in the World Cup since June 21 1982 (vs Northern Ireland).
- Costly’s goal ended a run of 510 minutes for the Hondurans without a World Cup goal.
- Enner Valencia has now scored 7 times in his last 6 appearances for Ecuador, scoring at least once in each game.
- The striker has netted 3 times in his last 2 games against Honduras. In fact, his current started with a goal against Honduras in November.
- Honduras attempted 9 shots in the second half. Ecuador had 10 attempts in total.
- Ecuador conceded more fouls in the match than Honduras (16-15).
- Ecuador have never played out a draw at the World Cup (W4 L5).
- Honduras have now played 8 games without a win at the World Cup (D3 L5). They have played more matches at the World Cup without winning than any other side (New Zealand, El Salvador and Bolivia – all 6).
- This was the 9th match in the 2014 World Cup to end 2-1.