Valencia scores World Cup-best third goal in Ecuador draw

AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — Ecuador striker Énner Valencia scored a World Cup-best third goal Friday in a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands that eliminated host nation Qatar from the tournament.

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 in the 49th minute when Valencia passed the ball into an empty net after Pervis Estupiñán’s shot was pushed away by goalkeeper Andries Noppert

Valencia’s third goal in Qatar — after scoring both in a 2-0 win over the host nation on Sunday — extended his streak to scoring all six Ecuador goals at World Cups since the 2014 tournament started.

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.

Ecuador almost got a deserved winning goal minutes later when the Netherlands crossbar was rattled by a rising left-foot shot from Gonzalo Plata.

Ecuador plays Senegal on Tuesday, needing just a draw to advance, and the Netherlands will play Qatar.

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Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press