Ecuador captain Valencia wrote his name in the history books when he scored the first goal of Qatar 2022 from the penalty spot (12) before he took his tally of World Cup finals goals to five with a brilliant-headed second (31).
The gulf in class between the two teams was visible just after the half-hour mark when Valencia stooped to head Angelo Preciado’s cross beautifully into the Qatar net for his and Ecuador’s second.
Almost Ali missed a glorious chance to reduce the deficit in the 45th minute, glancing Qatar’s only credible chance wide from seven yards, and the hosts were limited to efforts from distance after the break, with shots from Akram Afif and Mohammed Muntari giving Ecuador goalkeeper Hernan Galindez something to think about.
The hosts came with a spirited second half, showing defensive abilities which prevented Ecuador from inflicting more embarrassment, though that was not enough for Qatar to avoid setting unwanted World Cup history.
Qatar now becomes the first host nation to lose the opening game of a World Cup.