Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
'Superman' Valencia pounces and knocks Qatar out
Ecuador fans have been having fun photoshopping Enner Valencia’s face in between the image of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo playing chess for a promotional campaign by Louis Vuitton that went viral on the eve of the World Cup, and with good reason.
Valencia’s goal here was his third of the tournament and sixth in five World Cup matches dating back to the 2014 edition in Brazil. Only Messi and Ronaldo have managed as many in the group stages during this period – and, unlike Valencia, neither of that pair missed the 2018 finals.
It is quite the company to keep and means Valencia has not only accounted for all of the goals his country scored in Brazil and now Qatar but is now level with no less than France’s Thierry Henry and the Dutch great Denis Bergkamp for World Cup goals.
The sight, then, of the Fenerbahce striker being taken off on a stretcher in stoppage time with an injury and being helped to his feet by two staff before hobbling to the bench was alarming. One could imagine the Ecuador fans back home staging vigils in the hope he pulls through but Gustavo Alfaro moved to allay concerns, even if it was unclear if he was trying to put a positive spin on a worrying situation. “I think his injury is ok,” the Ecuador coach said. “He is going through such a good spell and I am so happy for him.”
Bergkamp would have winced watching the Netherlands labour in attack here. The two shots mustered by Louis van Gaal’s team were the lowest by a European nation in a World Cup match since they started recording such statistics 56 years ago.
With Qatar to play in their final match on Tuesday, the Netherlands have a good chance of topping the group but England would probably prefer to face them or Senegal in the Round of 16 than Ecuador and Valencia in this form.
Ecuador could still qualify as group winners should they better Netherlands’ result against Qatar and that would probably be a blessing for Gareth Southgate’s men.
The first 20 minutes aside, when Cody Gakpo put the Netherlands ahead with a fine strike for his second goal in as many games, the Dutch were distinctly second best and struggled to keep pace with Ecuador’s aggressive midfield and lively front three, Valencia especially.
The 33-year-old had a mixed time of it at West Ham and spent his final season in England on loan at Everton but he is an icon in his home country and was on hand to tap home the rebound after Pervis Estupiñán’s shot was saved. It followed a reckless passage of football from the Netherlands. Ecuador also hit the bar in the second half.
Valencia offers hard running and plenty of cunning, not to mention a real goal threat. This was his 22nd goal involvement in his past 24 matches for Ecuador and the mystery was Frenkie de Jong being awarded the man-of-the-match award. The Barcelona midfielder was poor, like most of his Dutch colleagues, and comprehensively upstaged by Valencia, now the leading scorer in the tournament.
Van Gaal complained about his side’s poverty in possession and lack of aggression at winning second balls and duels, something Ecuador excelled at, the tone set from the front by Valencia.
England will hope to avoid them in the knockout stages should it come to that.
Netherlands (3-4-1-2): Noppert 6; Timber 5, Van Dijk 6, Ake 6; Dumfries 6, Koopmeiners 5 (De Roon 79), De Jong 5, Blind 6; Klaassen 5 (Berghuis 70); Gakpo 7 (Weghorst 79), Bergwijn 4 (Depay 46).
Ecuador (3-4-3): Galindez 6; Porozo 7, Torres 7, Hincapie 7; Preciado 7, Caicedo 7, Mendez 7, Estupiñan 8; Plata 7 (Ibarra 90), Estrada 7 (Sarmiento 74), Valencia 8 (Rodriguez 90).
Referee: Mustapha Ghorbal (Algeria).
Full-time: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
Ecuador expose Netherlands' known flaws in attack and midfield to earn a valuable point and leave both with four points, knocking Qatar out of their own tournament.
A very impressive performance from Ecuador, playing with purpose and pace, left the Dutch looking ragged by the end. Cody Gakpo scored a magnificent goal but that and Van Dijk's heading apart, there were very few positives for the Oranje.
Estupinan had a fine game, a constant source of worry for Van Gaal's side, taking the ball forward with verve and menace. Valencia is such a talisman for them.
90+5 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
Van Dijk again wins the header at the corner. He has been a colossus in the air tonight.
90+3 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
Ake slides in to tackle Rodriguez as he is slipped in down the right. Netherlands are not quite clinging on but they have been rattled for more than an hour.
The throw-in brings a corner off the tired-looking Blind.
90+1 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
Valencia gets off the stretcher on the sidelines then sits on the bench with an icepack on his right leg.
Rodriguez hounds Noppert as he made a left-foot clearance. The ball ricocheted off the substitute and out for a goal-kick but it was a hairy moment for the Dutch.
Six minutes of stoppage time are prescribed this evening.
89 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
Valencia leaves on a stretcher, the magic spray not working this time. Double substitution for Ecuador: Rodriguez and Ibarra come on for Valencia and Plata.
87 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
Valencia is down, holding his head in the centre-circle. The Dutch play on and the Ecuador fans boo. It's up to the referee and he didn't stop the match ... but now he does.
85 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
Caicedo slides across Ake and pole-axes him. The City defender had pushed the ball ahead and was striding away. Free-kick but no yellow card. Up go the centre-backs. Berghuis takes the free-kick and doesn't beat the first man.
82 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
Timber races back to stop Valencia running on to a diagonal and mops up. Oranje's passing has been very poor this half. Depay turned away from Mendez with a slick spin but his next touch was leaden, knocking it too close to Torres as he tried to dribble into the box.
80 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
Estupinan's pace and persistence earn him a corner with a raid down the left that he takes himself. Van Dijk heads it out to 25 yards and Caicedo strikes a daft first-time shot, slicing it miles over.
77 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
More changes afoot from Netherlands as some of the heat goes out of the game. Torres hits a clearance straight at Caicedo who can't control it. It bounces up for Gakpo but Ecuador are all over him and win it back.
De Roon and Weghorst replace Gakpo and Kooopmeiners.
75 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
De Jong has been way below par today, not taking control of midfield like a Gavi or Pedri. He's not hiding but he hasn't stepped up in the way his talent should compel him to do.
Here's the Var image for the Ecuador goal.
72 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
Ecuador substitution: Jeremy Sarmiento of Brighton replaces Michel Estrada.
69 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
With Qatar to come, a draw is a far better result for the Dutch than Ecuador who will need to stop Senegal beating them next week if they emerge with a point. That might be a decent argument for Netherlands to tighten up but there's no sign of it so far.
68 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
Here comes the substitution: Berghuis for Klaassen.
66 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
Van Gaal is talking to Berghuis on the bench. And he is stripped and ready to come on after receiving further instruction.
64 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
Timber gets up for a diagonal, battling Valencia but doesn't get enough of his head on it. The ball hits the Ecuador captain's shoulder and he takes it in his stride, up the left flank and into the box. He picks up his head and pulls back a pass for Estrada who scuffs his side-foot effort with his left. I'm surprised Van Gaal hasn't modified his system. They look very ragged.
62 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
Daley Blind almost costs his side with a lazy hooked clearance that bounces off Estrada and Noppert has to bail him out.
60 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
Plata rattles the crossbar with a blistering left-foot shot from the left of the D, latching on to a ball that came to him when Van Dijk bravely blocks Valencia's raking shot. Ecuador are on the crest pf a wave at the moment. The Dutch can't keep hold of the ball and are being bossed in midfield.
57 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
That foul on Depay by Mendez brings him a booking and a ban for the Senegal game on Tuesday.
55 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
Double Ecuador foul, first a tap on Depay's ankles but the referee plays the advantage and then Gakpo is tripped as he surges down the inside-right channel.
53 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1
The equaliser has been coming and it's no fluke that the shot came on the right side of the Dutch defence, Estupinan smashing a low, left-foot shot that Noppert actually did well to get a hand to and block initially. But he needed more help from Van Dijk to stop the shot or Ake to stop the rebound
Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1 (Valencia) Misplaced pass in midfield from, I think, Gakpo, is picked off by Caicedo who shifts it to the right. Estupinan puts the hammer through a shot. Noppert makes a smart save but parries it towards the penalty spot and Valencia is following it in, played onside by Ake, and steers in the rebound. Ake either had to get out or get goalside of Valencia. He did neither.
Netherlands 1 Ecuador 1 (Valencia) Var check ongoing.
48 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Ecuador free-kick just inside the Dutch half. Estupinan whips it to the 18-yard line, Netherlands head it clear and Plata's second attempt, from the right, floats straight down Noppert's throat.
46 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Great spot from Ally McCoist, Davy Klaassen came off the goalline to ensure Porozo was offside when the shot came in and was diverted past Noppert.
Memphis Depay is coming on for the second half
To replace ... Steven Bergwijn.
It's time to get your player ratings in
Who is doing well and who is just muddling through?
Half-time Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Ecuador have been the better team for the past 20 minutes and came close to an equaliser on a handful of occasions before finally putting the ball past Noppert. The Dutch look very exposed down the right side of their defence with Dumfries pushed so high but Van Gaalm reckons what you lose on the swings, you gain on the roundabouts as Dumfries' runs are causing Ecuador problems.
Ecuador goal ruled out
Porozo was offside and in the line of Noppert's sight when Estupinan's left-foot flick from 12 yards, diverting a shot, thundered in at the right post. Ecuador protest but you can see the linesman and Var's point. Porozo didn't touch it but he was so close to Noppert, the keeper couldn't see the ball never mind reach it.
45+2 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Ecuador free-kick, 40 yards out on the left. Estupinan whips it into the box, the ball bending away from goal perfectly to meet Valencia's running leap. He makes good contact but the Dutch defend it at the cost of a corner.
45 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Great pass from Mendez to put Estupinan in down the left but he is diligently tracked by Van Dijk who blocks the cross at point-blank range.
The fourth official signals three minutes of stoppage time.
43 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Plata runs in to the back of Timber and demands a free-kick when his head hits the defender's shoulder but the ref rightly waves play on.
41 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Valencia and Dumfries wrestle as they await an Ecuador throw-in. The ref stops the game to wag his finger at them. Wesley Sneijder appears on the screen during the break in play, and then Edgar Davids.
39 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Hincapie brings down Bergwijn who falls heavily and puts out his hand, the one with the bandaged writs, to break his fall. He winces but eventually seems all right.
37 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Caicedo trips Klaassen and then tries to stop him taking a quick free-kick. He was booked against Qatar, so doesn't need another one. Fortunately the ref gives him a pass but he was dicing with a suspension there. He needs to screw the nut or he would miss out on the crucial match against Senegal.
35 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Most of the games in this World Cup have had Sven-Goran Eriksen in reverse syndrome: "First half not so good, second half good." This one has been highly entertaining so far.
32 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Ecuador have been the better side for the past 10 minutes and almost break through when Valencca, like Gakpo, works a bit of space to the left of the D and puts his laces through a shot. Noppert, who makes Edwin Van der Sar look like Ronnie Corbett, hurls himself to his right to turn it behind.
30 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Netherlands corner precipitates a bout of shoving in the box but Ecuador defend it stoutly and De Jong has to shepherd it all the way back to Noppert to thwart a lightning raid.
27 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Ecuador are flying now. They come down the left again, Estupinan sliding Valencia in behind Timber. He whips a left-footed daisycutter through the box, Estrada backheels it with a lovely touch but it doesn't quite come of, forcing Preciado wide and his angled shot is blocked out for a corner.
Ecuador's corner is a bust. It doesn't get up and the first Oranje defensive sentry wallops it clear.
25 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
At last Ecuador get in behind by thrusting high up the right before switching it to the left for Caicedo to take to the byline and pick out Plata with his poke-back. But he is smothered with a block tackle as he tries to get his shot off.
Then he gets back in again and Gakpo hacks it away. Now Estupinan brings it back down the left and whips over a cross to the far post, isolating Noppert. Van Dijk, facing his own goal but unruffled, gets his head under it to steer it away from goalwith a flick of the neck.
23 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Estrada can hold the ball up well but Ecuador are not hitting him early and often enough. De Jong and Koopmeiners are proving difficult to pass through. Ecuador may have to go over the top.
21 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Dumfries bullocks past three men and is brought down by a tug on his shirt from Estupinan. Torres wellies the ball and it hits the falling Dumfries flush in the face. But the referee waves play on and, after he sees that Dumfries is hurt, stops play but restarts with an uncontested bounce-up.
18 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Ecuador defend the first throw-in at the price of another and cut that one out when Dumfries hurls it infield.
16 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
As Clive Tyldesley points out, Gakpo is right-footed and his left is his swinger. Some chicken, some neck etc. At times Timber drops in at right-back in a back four and Dumfries is pushed very high as a right winger. In which position, he earns a throw-in parallel with the 18-yard line.
14 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Koopmeiners makes a run down the right, linking up with Dumfries, to work the ball into the centre but Hincapie makes a vital block and launches a counter with Valencia up the left. De Jong diligently tracks him all the way until his defenders snuff out the counter.
12 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Ecuador work the free-kick to the right for Plata to cross deep into the box. Van Dijk gets up ahead of Valencia to win the header.
10 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Ecuador are a little rattled by the early goal and have misplaced a couple of tackles but now have a chance to regroup with a free-kick following Timber's foul on Valencia.
8 min: Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0
Leeds United fans have been given several hints by their owner Andrea Radrizzani that they will go back in for Cody Gakpo in January. They won't be able to afford/seduce him at this rate.
Netherlands 1 Ecuador 0 (Gakpo) The PSV forward scores with a wonderful left-foot shot that is hit with such power it only bends in a bit but enough to whistle inside the left post. He was helped by Klaassen playing high as an inside-left, occupying Porozo before laying it off to his left from an Ake diago
nal to feet.
4 min: Netherlands 0 Ecuador 0
Preciado takes a blow to the goolies and receives pointless treatment. Time heals ball wounds. B'dum tish. I'm here all week.
3 min: Netherlands 0 Ecuador 0
Very patient so far from the Dutch until Van Dijk, having received the ball back 30 seconds after losing it by chipping it up the middle, goes for a diagonal to the right but spears it out for a Ecuador throw.
1 min: Netherlands 0 Ecuador 0
Ecuador, in blue, kick off and knock it long. Netherlands easily win the ball and start to build patiently from the back with Van Dijk in the middle of the three.
The players are out
And singing their national anthems lustily. Ecuador fans certainly the loudest. The Dutch national anthem always seems festive to me, so fairly appropriate. Ecuador's is one for marching to and perfect for outbursts of patriotic fervour.
Sparked a Fifa disciplinary investigation for singing 'eff off Chile' during the Qatar game, vexed that Chile tried to have them slung out of the club for a player registration irregularity. They also sang 'we want beer' but they haven't been fined for that ... yet.
After Enner Valencia scored twice in the 2-0 defeat of Qatar on Sunday, his club, Fenerbahce, rather amusingly did this:
Andries Noppert wins his second cap today in the Dutch goal
He was very good against Senegal but the story of the 28-year-old, who has played fewer than 50 league games over the past 12 years, is extraordinary. He is 6ft 8in and 'enjoyed' a spell in Serie B with Foggia whose fans stole his car after one defeat and, he says, he had to pay the local mafia to get it back.
Van Gaal consistently backs his hunches because he is usually right, sometimes wrong, but always certain.
Match preview and team news
Good afternoon and welcome to live coverage of the Group A game between Netherlands and Ecuador who start the match, following Senegal's victory over Qatar on three points alongside the Lions of Teranga.
The teams have already been announced, and here they are:
Netherlands Noppert; Timber, Van Dijk, Ake; Dumfries, Koopmeiners, Frenkie de Jong, Blind; Klaassen, Gakpo, Bergwijn.
Substitutes Pasveer, de Ligt, de Vrij, Luuk de Jong, Depay, Berghuis, Lang, Bijlow, de Roon, Malacia, Janssen, Weghorst, Taylor, Simons, Frimpong.
Ecuador Galindez; Angelo Preciado, Porozo, Torres, Hincapie, Estupinan; Plata, Mendez, Caicedo, Valencia, Estrada.
Substitutes Arboleda, Cifuentes, Pacho, Gruezo, Ayrton Preciado, Ibarra, Ramirez, Arreaga, Mena, Sarmiento, Palacios, Franco, Dominguez, Reasco, Rodriguez.
So De Ligt, Berghuis and Janssen drop down to the bench for the Dutch with Jurrien Timber, Davy Klaassen and Teun Koopmeiners coming in. Ecuador make one change, Jackson Porozzo, a defender, coming in for the midfielder Romario Ibarra, suggesting a switch to a back three or five after their opening day victory over the hosts.
The two sides have only met in friendlies before, the Dutch winning in Amsterdam 1-0 in 2006 and holding them 1-1 there eight years later. Louis van Gaal had a nice surprise yesterday at his pre-match press conference when a Senegalese reporter told the Dutchman he was a longtime admirer.
"I don't have any question for you. It's just an opportunity to tell you I'm a fan since I was three years old," Papa Mahmoud Gueye said. "I love you."
The 71-year-old Iron Tulip, sometimes viewed as a stern-faced, taciturn and obdurate figure in soccer, broke into a huge smile before responding.
"I'm going to give you a big hug after this, because I like that you say this and I mean that seriously," Van Gaal said through an interpreter. "Because people don't often say this to me. So we'll give each other a big hug afterward."
Van Gaal kept his word, moving down from the stage and beckoning the reporter with his hand to join him in a warm embrace.
The 28-year-old Gueye works for Senegalese publication Taggat.sn.
Gueye told the Associated Press it was an honor to share such a touching moment with Van Gaal. "He's one of the greatest figures in football," Gueye said. "He was also happy to see that there are people who love him, and he said to me 'Let's give each other a hug."'
Gueye said Van Gaal has earned an unfair reputation over the years as being grumpy.
"That's not really the case. From a distance people generally think that's he's not cool," Gueye said. "But he's a smiley character and he laughs with everyone. And he's one of the best coaches in the world."