The first half of this Group E match saw an open 45 minutes, with the chippy match seeing Ecuador and Honduras each take advantage of a defensive mistake to pick up a goal before the break.
Carlo Costly struck first for Honduras on a break-away, slotting through after the half-hour mark to end a streak of poor finishing by both sides.
The goal ended Honduras’s 510-minute World Cup goal drought, the second-longest of all-time. It also put Los Catrachos in line to become the last CONCACAF team to earn a win in this World Cup, in what would be an enormous mark for the federation.
However, just two minutes later, the lead was wasted as a deflected shot by Juan Carlos Parades fell to Enner Valencia on the far post for Ecuador to equalize.
The game was sloppy, with plenty of midfield turnovers and a few scuffed shots. Both sides also produced defensive mistakes as well as their share of errors in front of goal, but Costly didn’t miss with his chance.
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31′ – Out of nothing, a long ball from the back came forward to Costly, defended by Jorge Guagua. The Ecuadorian defender mistimed his jump, and the ball clipped off him right to Costly’s feet. With just the goalkeeper to beat, the 31-year-old striker rocketed home through the legs of goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez for the opener.
33′ – With an opening at the top edge of the box, Juan Carlos Paredes took aim and blasted on net. The ball clipped Jorge Claros on the way through, causing it to dribble to the far post where Enner Valencia had beaten Brayan Breckeles, and Valencia pounced for the equalizer.
Other key moments:
4′ – The game started incredibly open, and both sides got a half-chance early. A very dangerous cross from Ecuador’s Jefferson Montero was cut out by Victor Bernardez who cleared despite slipping on the ball. It went down the other end, and Carlos Costly found Jerry Bengtson
20′ – Enner Valencia had a gaping opportunity to put Ecuador ahead, but he came oh-so-close. A ball out of the back found his brilliantly-timed run, and with only the goalkeeper to beat, Valencia took aim for the top-left corner, but missed by inches with his curling effort.
26′ – Ecuador had another break on, but Maynor Figueroa stuck his boot out and blocked the key pass from Enner Valencia who was looking for a streaking Felipe Caicedo.
27′ – A Honduran corner came in to the far post, and Victor Bernardez got a free header with the goal gaping, but it went just wide.
45’+1 – A free kick by Bernardez forced a strong, diving save by Dominguez.
45’+2 – A cross into the box for Honduras caught the head of Costly who clanged it off the corner of the post. The rebound came out to Jerry Bengtson who put it in the back of the net, but the referee correctly ruled it out for a handball on Bengtson. Even if the ball hadn’t hit his hand, replays showed Bengtson was in an offsides position.
Ecuador – Dominguez; Guagua, Erazo, Paredes, Ayovi; Noboa, Minda, Montero, A. Valencia; Caicedo, E. Valencia.
Goals: E. Valencia 33′
Honduras – Valladares; Figueroa, Benardez, Izaguirre, Beckeles; Garcia, Espinoza, Garrido, Claros; Bengston, Costly.
Goals: Costly 31′
- Christian Noboa – The Ecuadorian midfielder was all over the center of the pitch, and although he must clean up his 24/31 passing, those he completed set up a number of chances for his team.
- Maynor Figueroa – The Hull City defender picked up five ball-recoveries in the defensive half, completed two tackles on two attempts, won three of four aerial duels, and completed all five attempted clearances. He’s been a massive force in Honduras’s defense.
Numbers to know:
6 – The number of straight games Enner Valencia has scored for Ecuador.
Questions for second half:
- Can Honduras create enough to go ahead? Ecuador out-passed Honduras in the final third 43-15 and held 62% of possession, proving the much more creative team. With both teams sloppy finishing chances, Honduras must create more chances in order to produce another goal. The few minutes before halftime proved promising in that regard.
- Will Ecuador clean things up? As the more creative side, Ecuador still must clean things up in the midfield and the attacking third. Their passing completion sits at just 78%, and the midfield was clogged compared to their push forward. If they can’t fix the mistakes in the build-up, Honduras could pip this one off the better side.