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World Cup winners & losers: Day 1

The World Cup is underway, with hosts Qatar butting heads with Ecuador in the only fixture on the opening day of the event.

It was a gloomy start to proceedings for Qatar, who were well and truly beaten 2-0 by the South Americans, serving a massive blow to their already slim hopes of getting anything from Group A.

Here are two winners and two losers from the game.

Qatar v Ecuador: Group A - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

VAR was out early / Marvin Ibo Guengoer – GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

The tournament was only a few minutes old when we encountered our first dose of drama.

Ecuador looked to have taken the lead but VAR intervened and ruled the goal out for an offside which had many fans scratching their heads and recalling a tweet which, while widely reported to be a hoax, alleged that Qatar had paid their opponents and ignited calls that they had even bribed FIFA.

A strong start to the day for the tin foil hat brigade.

Enner Valencia

Ecuador roared to victory / Michael Steele/GettyImages

Unfortunately, things didn’t stay suspicious for long.

The referee was brandishing yellow cards to frustrated Qatar players with near-reckless abandon as the hosts were emphatically outplayed on the global stage.

Put the tin foil hats away for now.

Enner Valencia

Valencia was the star / Lars Baron/GettyImages

Nobody has scored more World Cup goals for Ecuador than Enner Valencia, who netted twice on the night and was only denied a third because of the aforementioned offside call.

The former West Ham and Everton man, who is currently flying in Turkey with Fenerbahce, didn’t manage to complete the game as he picked up a knee injury but the Ecuador boss has already declared Valencia fit to face the Netherlands on Friday.

Two goals, a tournament record and no real injury scare. A good day at the office for Valencia.

Enner Valencia

The goal was correctly ruled out / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

While Valencia’s chalked-off goal was controversial at first, it ended up actually being an oft forgotten application of the offside rule.

The rule is not that there must be one defender between the goalkeeper and the attacking player, but rather two defending players between the player and the goal. Obviously, one of those is usually the goalkeeper, but not in this case.

With Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al-Sheeb well off his line, he was no longer involved in the melee and Ecuador’s Felix Torres was correctly ruled to be offside.

For all the furious critics, it was actually the right call, although maybe let’s not wait ten minutes before broadcasting the evidence next time?

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