Ecuador’s “that guy” is Enner Valencia, and he put two past Honduras to give La Tri its first three points of the 2014 World Cup and put Honduras on the brink of elimination.
The win wasn’t without trepidation, as the CONCACAF underdogs struck first through Carlo Costly, but just two minutes later Ecuador came back to level things up, and it was only a matter of time after that.
The game started open and stayed that way, with plenty of chances on both ends, although many of them ended in disappointing mistakes.
The Honduran defense played savior early on, as Victor Bernardez cut out a cross in the opening five minutes, and Ecuador’s Enner Valencia was pressured enough on a breakaway that he just curled his shot wide on 20 minutes.
Maynor Figueroa, a defensive force in the first half for Honduras, also put in a solid block as Valencia nearly found Felipe Caicedo in on goal.
Finally, Ecuador was punished for their wastefulness in front of goal as Honduras surprisingly went ahead. 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.
The goal ended Honduras’s 510-minute World Cup goal drought, the second-longest of all-time.
However, the lead would not last long. Ecuador pulled level just two minutes later, when Juan Carlos Paredes took aim from just outside the box 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, marking the sixth-straight match in which he’s scored for his country.
The first half started listlessly, but Honduras pulled out the biggest chance. On the hour mark, Jerry Bengtson tried to thread a shot into the lower corner, but Dominguez dove to push the ball out wide.
Ecuador built up a pile of corner kicks as the second half wore on, and they seemed to inch closer and closer towards scoring the winner as each one swung in. Finally, they found the set-piece magic they were looking for in the 65th minute.
A free kick came in from the left edge of the box after a foul by Boenik Garcia, and the out-swinger found the head of Enner Valencia again who nodded the ball home at the far post for Ecuador’s 2-1 lead. The goal is the third for Valencia of this World Cup, tying him for the early golden boot lead with Karim Benzema, Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, and Thomas Muller.
The deficit pushed Honduras more into the attack, and they came close on a few chances. Costly had a legitimate penalty should waved off as he was wrapped up in the box as the clock hit 75 minutes.
Honduras pushed with heart, but they just didn’t have the quality or creativity to produce any better opportunities to draw level.
Ecuador’s victory marked the eighth comeback win of the tournament, a staggering number at such an early stage. It also puts them into second place in Group E on goal-differential, ahead of Switzerland. However, they take on France next and one would think they’d need a result against the dominating Les Bleus if they were to go through to the knockout round.
Honduras remains winless in World Cup play, a span of eight matches for the country.
Ecuador – Dominguez; Guagua, Erazo, Paredes, Ayovi; Noboa, Minda (Gruezo 83′), Montero (Achillier 90′), A. Valencia; Caicedo (Mendez 82′), E. Valencia.
Goals: E. Valencia 33′, 65′
Honduras – Valladares; Figueroa, Benardez, Izaguirre (J. Garcia 46′), Beckeles; B. Garcia (Chavez 82′), Espinoza, Garrido (Martinez 71′), Claros; Bengston, Costly.
Goals: Costly 31′