Enner Valencia hit a brace on Sunday as Ecuador got off to a flying start with a 2-0 win over Qatar in the opening match of the 2022 World Cup at the Al Bayt Stadium.
Valencia could have gotten a hat trick to his name, but his earlier effort was chalked off for offside after a check through VAR.
The Ecuador captain was nonetheless on hand to get two goals that broke the hearts of the hosts, but set the South American side on the right part to qualify from Group A.
Valencia, who is the all-time highest goal scorer for Ecuador, made his experience count when he gave his team a deserved lead from the penalty spot after 16 minutes, before following his effort from 12 yards with a brilliant header shortly after the half-hour mark.
Qatar, who were playing a World Cup fixture for the first time had a few moments of their own but the Asian nation were thoroughly outclassed for large periods of the Group A fixture in Al Khor.
The build-up to the tournament in Qatar has been plagued by controversy with match-fixing allegations also made on the eve of the kickoff.
Qatar had barely settled into the game when Valencia appeared to have given Ecuador a third-minute lead with a close-range header.
However, the referee had to consult with VAR to rule that there had been an offside in the build-up, leaving supporters and viewers somewhat dumbfounded.
Despite the early setback, Ecuador looked more like the team to get the opening goal with their better play and indeed they had their noses in front in the 16th minute.
Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb hauled down Valencia as he attempted to take the ball past him and a penalty was rightly given.
Valencia got to his feet to dispatch the ball past the Qatar goalkeeper who was booked for the foul.
That goal, according to Opta, is the first opening World Cup goal to be scored via a penalty kick.
Valencia doubled his team’s advantage after a magnificent cross from the right from Angelo Preciado found him at the right place and he directed a pin-point header into the bottom corner of Al Sheeb’s net from 12 yards.
Though Qatar had a few moments of their own, they could not break the resolute Ecuador defence that has been impregnable in over 11 hours of football action,
However, with 15 minutes remaining, Ecuador were dealt a blow when Valencia was forced off the pitch, having sustained what appeared to be a knee problem during the first half.
Qatar and Ecuador will be back in action on Friday with the hosts facing Senegal while the latter have a date with the Netherlands.