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Hosts Qatar lose to Ecuador in World Cup opener

HOSTS Qatar opened the 2022 Fifa World Cup in disastrous fashion, easily beaten by Ecuador in a humbling defeat at Al Bayt.

Felix Sanchez’s men have been together in camp for the last six months to prepare for the tournament and work on tactics, but a nervous and disjointed performance led to a Group A loss.

With Africa Cup of Nations champions Senegal and three-time finalists the Netherlands to come, this looked like Qatar’s easiest game on paper but they were totally outplayed.

A dramatic opening to the contest saw Enner Valencia’s header from close range ruled out for offside by the video assistant referee, but the South Americans did break the deadlock shortly after.

Qatar’s erratic goalkeeper Saad al-Sheeb brought Valencia down in the box and the ex-West Ham forward stepped up to convert the spot-kick.

It got worse for the hosts as Valencia powered in another header before half-time to leave the Al Bayt Stadium silenced at the break.

Many supporters who had left the stadium at the interval did not return, leaving the ground around half empty for much of the second period.

Meanwhile, the 2022 World Cup kicked off with a visually striking opening ceremony at Al-Bayt Stadium ahead of the match between Qatar and Ecuador.

American actor Freeman featured in the festivities alongside Qatari YouTuber Ghanim Al-Muftah.

The ceremony kicked off with Oscar-winning actor Freeman narrating a video about football’s ability to unite.

-BBC

The build-up to the first World Cup to be held in a Muslim country in the Middle East has been overshadowed by a number of controversies including deaths of migrant workers and treatment of LGBT people in Qatar. – BBC

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