Football News

Explained: Why Ecuador’s opening World Cup ‘goal’ against Qatar was ruled out

By Ben Green

Explained- Why Ecuador’s opening World Cup goal against Qatar was ruled out

Published: 16:58, 20 November 2022

It took just 270 seconds for on-pitch controversy to strike at the 2022 World Cup after Enner Valencia’s deadlock-breaker in the opening game between Qatar and Ecuador was chalked off by VAR.

The host nation found themselves under heavy pressure from the opening whistle in their World Cup debut match, with the South American nation asserting an early authority that decided the tempo of the first half.

Gustavo Alfaro’s La Tri looked intent on spoiling the party and silencing the burgundy contingent packed into the Al Bayt Stadium, and after only three minutes there was a stunned silence for the majority of the ground as Valencia nodded home from close range.

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It looked a fair goal on first inspection, but after a few minutes of VAR’s forensic examination, referee Daniele Orsato signalled that the goal had been ruled out for offside. For many square-eyed fans watching on TV, there was no immediate replay illustrating why the goal was ruled out, leading to mass confusion.

It simply looked as though Qatar ‘keeper Saad Al-Sheeb fumbled when leaping for an aerial cross, before a bit of in-the-box ping-ponging saw the ball fall to Felix Torres, whose acrobatic cross went straight into the path of Valencia.

However, upon a closer inspection, Michael Estrada’s foot appears to be in an offside position as Torres heads the initial ball from Ecuador’s deep free-kick. Estrada then heads it back to Torres, who eventually delivers a cross to Valencia. It turned out to have been a fairly straightforward decision.

As it happens, Ecuador’s early pain didn’t last long, as Valencia would go on to net his fourth World Cup goal just 10 minutes later after Al-Sheeb conceded a penalty, before a bullet header just gone the half-hour mark from the ex-West Ham forward doubled his nation’s advantage.