Ecuador stuns Netherlands with 1-1 draw against all odds

Cody Gapko’s early strike was cancelled out by top scorer Enner Valencia.

The Dutch were coming to Group A as heavy favourite, but both teams had won their earlier matches and some changes were made coming into the game.

For the second match in a row, talisman Memphis Depay started on the bench; his recovery from a hamstring injury apparently not fully complete. Louis van Gaal made two changes, with Jurrien Timber and Teun Koopmeiners coming in for Mattihjs de Ligt and Steven Berghuis.

Ecuador manager Gustavo Alfaro switched to a back five. He made one change to the side that beat Qatar: Jackson Porozo came in at centre-back while midfielder Romario Ibarra made way.

The Dutch dominated possession in the early stages, aiming to beat a team that has not conceded a goal in any of its past seven matches. And on the 6th minute, a terrific finish from the highly sought after Cody Gakpo, saw him curl a fizzing left-footed shot past Hernan Galindez into the top corner from outside the Ecuador penalty area after being teed up by Davy Klaassen.

The Oranje were all hustle and bustle, not giving their South American counterparts a moment to settle on the ball as they attempted to get out of their own half and get forward. Dumfries won possession in midfield and drove forward with the ball at his feet. With Pervis Estupinan hanging out of his shirt, he ran into the immovable object that is central defender Felix Torres and crumpled to the ground.

Ecuador gets going

And then suddenly Ecuador got much much better. They got forward, with Estupinan’s cross from the left forcing Virgil van Dijk to head the ball clear while facing his own goal, under pressure from Michael Estrada.

Then again, Enner Valencia cut in from the left and unleashed a rasping drive that Andries Noppert did well to keep out. The Dutch goalkeeper dove to his right and put the ball out for a corner.

At the end of half time, Ecuador had a disallowed goal. From the corner, Estupinan got the ball into the Dutch goal and wheeled away in celebration but his strike was ruled offside.

But the Ecuadorians picked up where they left off with the second half starting with a goal that brought them level.

Another of Estupinan’s shots was saved brilliantly by a strong Noppert left hand, but the goalkeeper coild only parry the ball into the path of Enner Valencia, who smashed home from close range.

Constant pressure

The Ecuadorians wouldn’t let up. The Dutch would get away with a couple of chances with Van Dijk and then the woodwork came to their rescue in very quick succession.

Netherlands enjoyed a period of sustained possession and had the opportunity to take a breath – their first in a while. Cody Gakpo ran on to a through ball, lifted it over the oncoming goalkeeper and watched it bounce agonisingly wide of the far post. It wouldn’t have counted as he was offside.

But that spell of possession would turn back to the Ecuadorians, who controlled most of the game anyway. Sarmiento and Valencia would try their luck in the added minutes, only to be thwarted by the dutch defence.

The game made for an interesting Group A arrangement which surely sees Qatar unable to qualify. Senegal, Netherlands and Ecuador will all look for a win in their last match to guarantee their spot in the round of 16.

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