The 2022 World Cup kicked off with Ecuador sank hosts Qatar in Group A’s opening game. Enner Valencia netted a brace to hand hosts nation an unwanted record in the tournament. Meanwhile, England took a 3-0 lead at half time before finishing 6-2 victory over Iran in the opening Group B match. More World Cup updates and soccer highlights here!
Following a spectacular opening ceremony, featuring BTS member Jungkook’s opening performance, the matchup between hosts Qatar and Ecuador started in front of more than 67,000 supporters, mostly Qatari fans. Valencia netted an early goal only to be ruled by VAR as offside. The Fenerbahçe playmaker once again netted a penalty kick that put his side in the lead. All soccer predictions are here!
La Tri’s captain, who became Ecuador’s all-time leading goalscorer at the World Cup with this opening goal, added another in the 31st minute. Valencia’s brace was enough to seal the opening win of the tournament. By the end of the match, Qatar picked-up an unwanted record in their maiden World Cup match in 12 years, becoming the first-ever host nation to lose a World Cup opener after the 2-0 loss.
“This is just the start of the World Cup,” said the 33-year-old Valencia, who is also Ecuador’s 2014 World Cup star. “We have to keep dreaming.” Ecuador has three points on the board as they face the Netherlands, who won against Senegal 0-2 to top the league table on goal difference, next week in Group A. Qatar face Senegal on the same day.
Meanwhile, the Three Lions displayed a smooth start as they thrashed Iran 6-2 in Group B opener. The game started with a controversial gesture of Iran players where they decided not to sing the country’s national anthem amid boos in solidarity with the women’s rights protesters in the country. England also made a statement with captain Harry Kane wearing an armband with “No Discrimination” sign.
Jude Bellingham scored first England goal to open the lead for England before Saka and Sterling strikes saw them 3 goals in the first half. Saka netted his second before Mehdi Taremi scored a fine goal in the 65th minute for Iran. England substitute Marcus Rashford added a fifth for England and Jack Grealish’s fine close range goal made it six. Taremi added his second for Iran in a penalty.
“I can’t describe the feeling – it’s amazing,” the Arsenal star Saka said. “I’m so happy, I’m so proud, and we’ve got the win as well, so it’s a really special day! We needed a good start, we didn’t play the best coming into the tournament. But we showed everyone how much quality we have and what we can do. It’s amazing. We have to be consistent, because we have the next game coming up in a few days.”
This is the only second time that England netted 6+ goals in a major tournament, having done it for the first time also in the tournament, thrashing Panama 6-1 at World Cup 2018. Bellingham and Saka’s goals made them the first U21 players to have scored in a single World Cup game for England. Southgate’s men face USA, who shared spoils with Wales, in their second group game this week.
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