Pervis Estupiñán, Enner Valencia and Piero Hincapié celebrate the Ecuadorian equalizer
Photo: Martin Meissner / AP
A 1-1 (1-0) draw by the Netherlands against Ecuador sealed host Qatar's elimination from the World Cup.
The Dutch goal was scored by Cody Gakpo (6th minute), for the attacker from PSV Eindhoven it was already the second goal of the tournament.
Ecuador's goalscorer Enner Valencia scored the well-deserved equalizer for El Tri (49'), and a win for Ecuador would have been possible.
In Group A, the Netherlands and Ecuador (four points) and Senegal (three points) still have chances of progressing, the pointless Qatar can no longer reach the round of 16 even if they win against Oranje on the last day of the game.
The Netherlands got off to a better start.
Coach Louis van Gaal's team took the lead with the first attack: Davy Klaassen laid the ball on the edge of the penalty area for Gakpo, who sunk a sharp, medium-high shot in the near corner (6').
With the lead behind them, Oranje took it easy – too calm: Ecuador had scored six shots before the break, the Dutch didn't fire another shot after the 1-0 lead in the first 45 minutes.
The equalizer just before the end of the first half was not undeserved, after a corner kick a deflected long-range shot by Pervis Estupiñán ended up in the goal.
Because Ecuador's Jackson Porozo was in the field of vision of Dutch keeper Andries Noppert, the goal didn't last (45+3).
Valencia strikes again
After the change of sides, the Ecuadorian persistence paid off: First the strikers put pressure on Noppert, who hit the ball into the middle field.
Ecuador won the ball there, and Estupiñán quickly went forward.
The left winger's next shot was parried by Noppert, where Valencia was ready to score his third goal of the tournament (49').
Valencia have scored their country's last six World Cup goals in all tournaments - a streak previously only achieved by Eusébio (Portugal, 1966), Paolo Rossi (Italy, 1982) and Oleg Salenko (Russia, 1994).
And Ecuador continued to play, Gonzalo Plata shot the crossbar (59').
However, the South Americans were worried about a late injury to Valencia, who had to leave the field with the stretcher (90').
Despite the substitution of star striker Memphis, the Netherlands hardly played an offensive game at half-time, but still have an excellent starting position before the final group game: a draw against Qatar in the last group game is enough to qualify for the round of 16.
If Ecuador should win against Senegal at the same time, even a defeat would be enough.