AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — Ecuadorian striker Énner Valencia scored his third goal, a world best, on Friday in a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands that eliminated host country Qatar from the tournament.
The draw gave the Netherlands and Ecuador one point each to move them to four points in Group A. It left Qatar with zero points after losing 3-1 to Senegal hours earlier.
Ecuador dominated much of the game after Cody Gakpo put the Dutch ahead in the sixth minute with a high shot from the edge of the penalty area. It was the fastest goal scored so far in Qatar.
Ecuador equalized in the 49th minute when Valencia passed the ball into the empty goal after Pervis Estupiñán’s shot was deflected by goalkeeper Andries Noppert.
Valencia’s third goal in Qatar, after scoring both in a 2-0 win over the host nation on Sunday, extended his streak to scoring Ecuador’s six World Cup goals since the 2014 tournament began.
Almost the entire Ecuadorian squad joined their inspiring captain in a collective goal celebration. He created a powerful image of unity by kneeling together in a circle pointing to the night sky at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Ecuador came close to scoring a well-deserved winning goal minutes later when the Netherlands crossbar was rocked by Gonzalo Plata’s elevated left footed shot.
Ecuador plays Senegal on Tuesday, needing just a draw to advance, and the Netherlands will play Qatar.
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