Inspired by captain Enner Valencia, Ecuador impressed again at the World Cup on Friday in a 1-1 draw with the favoured Netherlands in a game the South American side deserved to win.
Valencia has become a talisman on the biggest stage and his 49th-minute leveller against the Dutch made him the top scorer at this World Cup with his third goal in Qatar.
It also extended the 33-year-old veteran’s streak to scoring all six Ecuador goals at World Cups since the 2014 tournament.
The result eliminated host nation Qatar just six days after the start of its home World Cup.
The draw gave both the Netherlands and Ecuador one point apiece 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 fired the Dutch into a sixth-minute lead. Valencia levelled the score by putting the ball into an empty net after Pervis Estupinan’s shot was pushed away by Dutch goalkeeper Andries Noppert.
Ecuador almost got a deserved winning goal minutes later when the Netherlands crossbar was rattled by a rising left-foot shot from Gonzalo Plata.
Ecuador may have to do it without Valencia. He was stretchered off the field in the 90th minute. He was able to get up and walk to the bench, where a bag of ice was taped to his right leg.