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Ecuador levels with Netherlands

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AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — Inspired by captain Énner Valencia, Ecuador impressed again at the World Cup on Friday in a 1-1 draw with favored Netherlands in a game La Tri deserved to win.

Ecuador’s Enner Valencia reacts after scoring his side’s first goal during the World Cup group A soccer match between Netherlands and Ecuador, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Valencia has become a talisman on the biggest stage and his 49th-minute leveler 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 five days after the start of its home World Cup that cost about $200 billion to prepare.

The draw gave both the Dutch 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 with a rising shot from the edge of the penalty area. It was the fastest goal scored so far in Qatar.

Ecuador leveled when Valencia passed the ball into an empty net after Pervis Estupiñán’s shot was pushed away by goalkeeper Andries Noppert

Almost the entire Ecuador squad joined their inspirational captain in a collective goal celebration. It created a powerful image of unity by kneeling together in a circle pointing to the night sky at Khalifa International Stadium.

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