By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Ecuador came from behind to beat Honduras 2-1 at the Arena da Baixada yesterday evening (June 20th) and give themselves a real chance of qualifying for the knock-out phase of the FIFA World Cup. With huge support inside the stadium a brace from forward Enner Valencia turned the tie on its head to give the South Americans the three points.
Ecuador now sit second in Group E on goal difference ahead of Switzerland. Honduras, after successive defeats, are all but eliminated from the tournament.
Enner Valencia was the hero of the day, who, after missing a golden chance to give Ecuador the lead in the first half, scored the goals that got them their first win in this year’s competition. Yet the fans played their part too, making noise for the entirety of the game to spur on the players in yellow, giving the match the appearance of a home tie for the Ecuador players.
Still Honduras did not wilt either. On 30 minutes, they went ahead when Carlos Costly seized on a mistake by Ecuador defender Guagua to drive the ball past Domínguez in goal. Their biggest mistake was an inability to hold the lead for any length of time. Within three minutes Ecuador were level.
Paredes crossed from the right and Valencia was on hand at the far post to tap home. As the game neared the interval it was Honduras who threatened a second but the sides went into half-time on an even footing.
Honduras continued to apply pressure after the break, but they were hit by a major blow on 64 minutes. Ayovi whipped in a free-kick and Valencia rose above the defense to head Ecuador’s second to put them 2-1 ahead. With the lead for the first time in the match they tried to sit and absorb pressure.
Honduras probed but Ecuador sat tight. They now face France at the Maracanã on Wednesday for a place in the last sixteen.
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