The fastest goal of the World Cup so far was not enough for the Netherlands to advance to the round of 16, instead Énner Valencia blasted the Oranje party with his goal for the history books. Louis van Gaal's Elftal only managed to draw 1-1 (1-0) in their second World Cup game against Ecuador on Friday, despite Cody Gakpo's lightning lead (6th minute). Valencia (49') scored his sixth consecutive World Cup goal, a feat that only three other players had managed before him.
Bond coach van Gaal once again left his long-injured star Memphis Depay on the bench. That was okay because, like in the first game, the young Gakpo delivered. Ecuador's goalkeeper Hernán Galindez had no chance with his powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area into the left corner. It was the second goal at this World Cup for the PSV Eindhoven attacking player, although the 23-year-old has only played eleven international matches.
And van Gaal saw his words confirmed before the game. "He's a very talented player, but he's very young. I don't know if he'll become a star here. But he has the potential. He can become a star," said the 71-year-old. Gakpo, who played a little more attacking than he beat Senegal 2-0, became only the second Dutch player to score in his first two World Cup games. The first was – of course – Depay 2014 in Brazil. It was Ecuador's first goal after a remarkable 701 minutes.
However, the further course of the first half should not have pleased the discipline fanatic van Gaal at all. Ecuador got more and more access to the game, became more and more self-confident. In many offensive actions, which mainly took place on the wings, only the last pass was missing. So Valencia just took off from a good 20 meters. But the double goal scorer from the South Americans' 2-0 opening win against Qatar was denied by Oranje keeper Andries Noppert.
In injury time, Elftal still got the reward for their increasingly passive defense - at least that's what the 44,833 fans in the Chalifa International Stadium thought. Pervis Estupiñán (45.3) put the ball in, but Jackson Porozo, who was offside, blocked Noppert's view. Referee Mustapha Ghorbal from Algeria rightly did not give the goal.
Van Gaal reacted anyway, brought in Depay for the ineffective Steven Bergwijn. But Ecuador scored the goal – and this time it counted. An Estupiñán shot was blocked by Noppert right at the feet of Valencia, who scored his third goal of the tournament. For the 33-year-old, it was his sixth consecutive World Cup goal without anyone else scoring for Ecuador. According to data service provider Opta, only Portugal's Eusebio in 1966, Italy's Paolo Rossi in 1982 and Russia's Oleg Salenko in 1994 had previously scored six World Cup goals in a row for a country. In the 90th minute, however, Valencia had to be taken off the field injured and carried on a stretcher.
At home, Valencia should have triggered a massive party. The country's Ministry of Education had closed all schools and universities specifically for the game in order to strengthen the sense of togetherness. The game kicked off at 11:00 a.m. Ecuadorian time. And just in time for lunch it got even better. Gonzalo Plata (59th) hit the crossbar with his wonderful flick, only centimeters were missing for the lead.