World Cup 2022 in review: Day 1 - Valencia, VAR and the missing opening ceremony

A daily report from the 2022 World Cup, reviewing the day's matches, saves, goals, gaffs and moments of magic from Qatar

By James Descombes Published: 21 November 2022 - 9.37am
Ecuador goalscorer enner valencia

After years of debate about this World Cup, the football finally did the talking as host nation Qatar opened the tournament against the South American side, Ecuador. 

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Opening day results

Qatar 0-2 Ecuador 

Match summary

It took a little under three minutes for VAR to make its mark on the 2022 World Cup, when Enner Valencia's header was ruled out for an offside in the build up. 

Nobody thought there was an offside in real time, but as we've seen many times in the Premier League, VAR found a way to rule the goal out. 

Conspiracy theorists may have been typing frantically at that point, but Valencia did get his goal from the penalty spot just over 10 minutes later. 

Qatari goalkeeper Saad Al-Sheeb had a rush of blood to the head and brought down the former West Ham striker, who cooly slotted home from the spot. 

The hosts were poor, with mis-placed passes and sloppy control giving a pacy and decisive Ecuador side the impetus. 

Valencia grabbed his second goal of the game just after the half-hour mark - and has now scored Ecuador's last five goals at the World Cup, becoming the first South American to score in five consecutive matches. 

Qatar's best chance came unexpectedly at the end of the first half, when Almoez Ali found himself unmarked in front of goal. Unfortunately for the host nation, he couldn't find the target.

Qatar proved more dogged in the second half, but failed to find the target despite creating a couple of decent openings. 

They become the first home nation to lose their opening match in World Cup history.

Ecuador look useful and could trouble the group, especially with Senegal's main man, Sadio Mane, missing from action. 

Valencia himself took a knock, but is hopeful of returning for the next match against the Netherlands and continuing his early goalscoring form. 

Goal of the day

Enner Valencia was coolness personified as he slotted home his first goal from the penatly spot, taking his time, sending the keeper the wrong way and finding the bottom corner. 

Save of the day

With no shots on target for Qatar, this one goes to Qatari keeper Saad Al-Sheeb. 

Early in the second half, Romario Ibarra broke through on  goal and tried to curl in a shot from the edge of the box, but Al-Sheeb parried well. 

Player of the day

Ex-West Ham and Everton striker Enner Valencia got off to a great start to the tournament and the race for the Golden Boot by bagging a brace. 

He could've easily scored a hat-trick too, but saw his first header ruled out by VAR after just three minutes.

Magic moments

The opening ceremony saw Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman open the ceremony with Al Muftah, a twin brother born with Caudal Regression Syndrome, a rare disorder that impairs the development of the lower spine.

Freeman said: "What unites us here in his moment is so much greater than what divides us. How can we make it last longer than today?"

South Korean popstar Jung Kook performed the World Cup song too, but viewers tuning into BBC One wouldn't have seen any of it.

The broadcaster decided not to show the opening ceremony, instead focusing on the controversial event and issues surrounding the World Cup in Qatar.

The reason given was that the the ceremony started early and during the Beeb's coverage of the Women's Super League fixture between Chelsea and Spurs. It was broadcast live on the iPlayer, but many fans were unaware and vented their frustration on social media. 

Quote of the day

Ecuador's goalscorer Enner Valencia

“Ever since the draw took place I dreamt about this game. I dreamt about playing in this opening game and winning - so it really is a dream come true. These games are about moments. We were able to score two early goals and it allowed us to take control.”

Image of the day

Enner Valencia's club Fenerbahce photoshopped the Ecuadorian goalscorer into the famous photo of Ronaldo and Messi, created by Annie Liebovitz for a recent Louis Vuitton campaign.

Upcoming fixtures

Monday 21 November: 

Group B - England vs Iran - 1pm KO

Group A - Senegal vs Netherlands - 4pm KO

Group B - USA vs Wales - 7pm KO