Netherlands 1-1 Ecuador: Dutch on verge of World Cup knockouts despite lacklustre display

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

A 1-1 draw between the Netherlands and Ecuador left both sides knocking on the door of the last-16 of the 2022 World Cup.

Knowing a win would guarantee their progression, it took only five minutes and four seconds for the Dutch to lead, Cody Gakpo continuing his fine World Cup with a powerful strike from the edge of the box that beat Hernan Galindez all ends up.

Ecuador had swapped to a five-man defence to match up with their opponents, with the security of having beaten Qatar in their opening match, but quickly had to rethink their approach.

However, the Netherlands failed to build on their lead and La Tri got back into the match, Michael Estrada’s dangerous flick across goal beating the crowd before Enner Valencia’s shot from distance forced a save.

The biggest warning sign came as Pervis Estupinan turned an Angelo Preciado drive into the net in first-half injury time, only for the flag to go up due to Jackson Porozo blocking the goalkeeper’s view from an offside position.

The offside flag went Ecuador’s way after the break as Enner Valencia hit a 49th-minute leveller. Estupinan’s shot was parried into the veteran striker’s path, and a simple finish was confirmed after replays showed he was behind Nathan Ake as the initial attempt came in.

That elevated the former West Ham man to alongside the likes of Eusebio and Paolo Rossi as one of only four players to score each of their country’s six World Cup goals in a row.

On the hour mark, the South Americans came within an inch of taking the lead as Preciado’s stepovers created space for Valencia to shoot. A good block sent the ball the way of Gonzalo Plata, who unleashed a fierce strike that smashed the underside of the crossbar.

Netherlands struggled to produce an opportunity of note as the final whistle approached, perhaps safe in the knowledge that, with Qatar - who were knocked out by this result - up next, their place in the last-16 was likely assured even if tonight’s opportunity passed them by.

Senegal await Ecuador, meanwhile, with a point enough for La Tri to progress with Group A’s runners-up facing the winners of England’s Group B.

However, losing star forward Valencia to injury late on, as he was taken off on a stretcher, will be a worry in the build-up to that decider.