Soccer: Moment proves too big for hosts Qatar in World Cup opener

World Cup hosts Qatar could not cap 12 years of preparations with a win in the tournament opener on Sunday, as Ecuador secured a dominant 2-0 win at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor.

Played in front of more than 67,000 people, the home team went behind after 16 minutes when Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb brought down Enner Valencia in the box. Valencia then stepped up and slotted the penalty.

Al Sheeb had a nightmare start to the game and was only saved by video assistant referee after making a blunder that ended with Valencia heading the ball into the back of the net in the fifth minute.

Valencia did eventually get his second in the 31st minute when he fired a powerful header home.

"First of all, there is no excuse. I want to congratulate our opponent...They deserved to win," said Qatar's Spanish coach Felix Sanchez.

Qatar showed more fight in the second half, but they rarely threatened as Ecuador sat back and protected their lead with an eye likely on their next game in Group A against the Netherlands on Friday.

As the second half dragged on, the stands began to empty as the locals presumably decided they had seen enough.

Qatar will have another chance to prove they belong on the sport's biggest stage when they play Senegal, also on Friday.

"There is a lot of room for improvement. We did not play at our best level, maybe the responsibility, the nerves are to blame," said Sanchez.

© Kyodo News