World Cup 2022: Ecuador open scoring with penalty after goal disallowed by VAR

Ecuador players celebrate after Enner Valencia scored the opening goal (a penalty) against Qatar in the first game of the FIFA World Cup 2022 on 20 November, 2022 at Al Bayt Stadium, Qatar
(Image credit: Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images)

Ecuador bagged the first goal of the 2022 World Cup, scoring a penalty 16 minutes into the tournament's opening game against hosts Qatar.

Enner Valencia converted from 12 yards in cucumber-cool fashion, having earlier seen a goal ruled out by VAR (with the help of the new semi-automated offside technology) for a baffling offside decision (opens in new tab).

Valencia – who's previously played in the Premier League for Everton and West Ham – was brought down by Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb, leaving referee Daniele Orsato with no choice but to give the foul.

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He then doubled his country's lead with a simply sublime header from Angelo Preciado's cross just after the half-hour mark.

These were the 33-year-old's fourth and fifth World Cup goals, following three at the 2014 tournament in Brazil – the previous edition for which Ecuador qualified.

Only one of the past six World Cup curtain-raisers has finished 1-0: Senegal's shock victory over holders France in 2002.

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Tom Hancock started freelancing for FourFourTwo in April 2019 and has also written for The Analyst and When Saturday Comes, among others. He supports Wycombe Wanderers and has a soft spot for Wealdstone. A self-confessed statto, he has been known to watch football with a spreadsheet (or several) open...