Ecuador kick off World Cup with 2-0 defeat of hosts Qatar
“Focus on football” was Fifa’s message to competing nations before the start of the World Cup.
After the result from the competition’s opening game, anyone associated with Qatar will want to forget their last 90 minutes of football for the next week at least.
Felix Sanchez’s side were easily beaten 2-0 by Ecuador, failing to muster a shot on target in the entire contest.
And they become the first host side in the tournament’s history to lose their opening game.
A day that started with genuine optimism with the realisation of their World Cup dream coming true, it soon turned into a nightmare for players and fans alike.
Reams of column inches and website copy has been published about Qatar’s right to host the World Cup, when Sepp Blatter unveiled their name from an envelope 12 years ago.
Questions about the country’s human rights record and treatment of LGBT people overshadowed the build-up, but there was excitement outside the stadium hours before the game on Sunday.
Qatar could have conceded their first World Cup goal when Enner Valencia headed in from close range, but they were given a reprieve by an offside call spotted by the video assistant referee.
Things didn’t improve though as ex-West Ham forward Valencia scored from the penalty spot and added a header for a 2-0 half-time lead.
While the Ecuadorians were enjoying their day out, the home supporters dressed in their traditional thobes and abayas were largely sitting in silence, but for a pocket of fans dressed in maroon shirts behind the goal.
Many of those who left their seats at half-time did not return, leaving the stadium half empty for most of the second period.
It contributed to a flat atmosphere which produced just one shot on target in the second half. (BBC)