Asian champions Qatar started the 2022 World Cup with a defeat. The hosts lost the opening game 0-2 (0-2) against Ecuador. The goals in the one-sided game were scored by Enner Valencia (16th, 31st). However, it took the fifth minute of stoppage time before the half-time break before the Qataris had their first chance to score. Qatar are the first hosts in World Cup history to lose an opening game.

The game had just started when it had to be interrupted again. After the supposed 1:0 by Valencia, the video referee needed 130 seconds to determine an offside position. The Fenerbahce striker then struck from the spot just ten minutes later, courtesy of Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al-Sheeb, who was uncertain from the start. With a header, Valencia completed their first World Cup brace after half an hour and, with five goals, have now become their country’s sole World Cup record scorer.

Qatar lacked the World Cup suitability for long stretches and only played against an opponent who was slacking off in the second half. Apart from the artful shot by substitute Mohammed Muntari (86th), the Qatari could think of little in the game going forward, although they now had more possession of the ball. Ecuador withdrew further and largely limited themselves to counterattacks. In the 76th minute, the battered double goal scorer Valencia had to be limped off and replaced.

In this form, the emirate can hardly hope to win a point. Other opponents in Group A are Senegal and the Netherlands. Only the two best in the group reach the round of 16.

In the arena north of Doha, shaped like a desert tent, the 67,372 spectators felt the World Cup mood, at least at the beginning. A group of fans in flashy red “Qatar” shirts didn’t let the goals conceded stop them from orchestrating their chants. In the final phase of the game, however, there were increasing gaps in the stands. Thousands of people watched the emirate’s first World Cup game in the capital. A Fanfest, one of the few places where alcohol was allowed to be sold, had to be temporarily closed due to overcrowding.