Curitiba (Brazil): Ecuador came from behind to beat Honduras 2-1 in a Group E second round match Friday, clinching their first win at the 2014 World Cup.
Twenty-four-year-old forward Enner Valencia was named the Man of the Match after netting twice for Ecuador, Xinhua reported.
If the Ecuadorians defeat France, who beat Switzerland 5-2 earlier in the day, in their last group match on Wednesday, they will advance into the last 16 to match their previous best result in the World Cup (2006).
Despite the defeat, Honduras did have something to celebrate as Carlo Costly scored the country’s first World Cup goal in 32 years.
Both teams had been coached by Reinaldo Rueda and Luis Fernando Suarez, and they knew very well about each other. Previously, 12 matches were played between the two teams, and all of them were friendlies. Ecuador won three times, while Honduras had two victories. The last match between them, which ended 2-2, was played in Houston, the US last November.
Ecuador enjoyed a better start in Friday’s match. Honduras defender Victor Bernardez was shown a yellow card in the seventh minute after fouling right in front of the box, but Ecuador’s free kick couldn’t break Honduras’ defense.
A great chance for Ecuador came in the 20th minute when Valencia successfully cut through the Honduras defense but his shot went wide.
In the 28th minute, Bernardez’s diving header off the corner kick seemed good, but the shot went wide of the post.
The first goal came in the 31st minute. Costly took a great pass from the midfield and then powered a shot past Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez from outside the box.
Ecuador rallied back fast. Only three minutes later, Valencia saw his chance at the far post. He took the reflected ball and managed it behind the goal line, helping Ecuador level the score 1-1.
Honduras had a goal disallowed at the end of the first half, as Jerry Bengtson committed a foul before the play.
Honduras replaced Emilio Izaguirre for J.C. Garcia in the second half, but the “Los Catrachos” faced greater pressure as Ecuador enhanced their offense.
The Honduras defense finally broke down in the 65th minute, Valencia scored his second goal through a header during a free-kick play. The lead meant nothing but wild celebration in the stadium which was almost occupied by the yellow jerseys. The Ecuadorian supporters were ecstatic after the goal in the Arena da Baixada.
Honduras refused to give up. The Central American team changed into the attacking mode in the final 20 minutes, creating a couple of free-kick opportunities. However, the South American side were cautious enough not to concede another goal.
The two coaches made a few changes in the 83rd minute. Honduras brought attacking players on and Ecuador managed to reinforce their defense.
Honduras failed to score again, and Valencia missed the chance for a “hat-trick” because Antonio Valencia committed a hand-ball foul before passing.
Honduras would play Switzerland in the final round.