By AP and published by ABC News
Al Khor, Qatar (AP) – Loud jeers rang around the stadium. England’s fans were not happy. The United States had frustrated them yet again at a World Cup.
That’s three times and counting that the teams have met on soccer’s biggest stage and England is still waiting for its first win against the Americans after a 0-0 draw on Friday.
Coach Gareth Southgate had reminded his players of that record beforehand, with the US famously winning 1-0 in 1950 and playing out a 1-1 draw in 2010. They didn’t seem to heed his warning and didn’t respond to Gregg Berhalter’s young and energetic team.
England beat Iran 6-2 in its opening game in Qatar to justify its status as one of the tournament favourites. But it could consider itself fortunate not to have dropped another match to the US, after Christian Pulisic hit the crossbar with a first-half strike and Weston McKinnie lifted a shot over from eight yards out.
The draw sets up a match for the US against Iran on Tuesday for a spot in the round of 16. Iran beat Wales 2-0 earlier and sits second in Group B with three points, one more than the Americans.
A win would have advanced England into the knockout stages, but the Three Lions rarely looked in control.
Its supporters were ready to celebrate a late winner when Harry Kane came close to scoring with stoppage time header.
“It wasn’t the best performance for sure,” said Kane. “Good spells with the ball, but we didn’t quite have the final product. Clean sheet puts us in a great position in the group.
“We had two or three opportunities and didn’t put it away.”
Valencia scores World Cup-best third goal in Ecuador draw
One of the true leaders in Qatar, Valencia had levelled the score at 1-1 against the favoured Netherlands to extend his streak of scoring all six of Ecuador’s goals at World Cup tournaments since 2014.
The 33-year-old talisman was surrounded by teammates who joined him in a joyous circle of celebration. All were soon kneeling on the turf, some with arms around shoulders, some pointing to the night sky at Khalifa International Stadium.
It sent a powerful image of unity home to a nation which “is used to suffering and struggling,” coach Gustavo Alfaro said in translated comments after a game his young team deserved to win.
Valencia was among the last to rise from the turf as teammates gave the new top scorer at this World Cup a last pat on his head and shoulder.
“He’s a top-level player when he wears the Ecuador jersey. Sometimes he is criticised unfairly,” Alfaro said, reminding that Valencia is the only holdover from the 2014 squad which didn’t advance from the group despite his three goals.
In Qatar, Valencia’s goals in a 2-0 win over the host nation and a third to earn a point against the group-leading Dutch mean a draw against Senegal on Tuesday will be enough to enter the round of 16.
This result also eliminated host nation Qatar just five days after the start of its home World Cup that cost about $200 billion to prepare.
The Netherlands and Ecuador moved up to four points in Group A. It left Qatar with zero points after losing 3-1 to Senegal hours earlier.
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal said he was satisfied with a point rather than the performance against “a much better opponent.”
“We were poor in terms of ball possession. We lost every challenge, every duel, every second ball,” Van Gaal said, who shared a smile — and was that another hug? — with Alfaro as their paths crossed at the post-game news conferences.
“He is the best,” Alfaro said in English of Van Gaal though his team had limited the Dutch to two shots on goal and had 14 of their own.
The Dutch were passive after Cody Gakpo fired them into a sixth-minute lead with a rising shot from the edge of the penalty area. It was the fastest goal scored so far in Qatar.
Ecuador levelled when Valencia passed the ball into an empty net after Pervis Estupiñán’s shot was pushed away by goalkeeper Andries Noppert. It capitalised on ragged play throughout the Netherlands defence, after Noppert was almost caught in possession by the hard-charging Valencia and cleared the ball weakly.
A deserved winning goal almost followed minutes later when the Netherlands crossbar was rattled by a rising left-foot shot from Gonzalo Plata.
“To me the result was not the most important thing today, it was their attitude,” Alfaro said. “We are talking about 20-, 21-year-old players with a great future ahead of them.”
Their next test is against Senegal with Valencia likely restored after being stretchered off the field in the 90th minute. He was able to get up and walk to the bench, where a bag of ice was taped to his right leg.
Until Gakpo’s goal, Ecuador hadn’t conceded a goal in more than 11 hours’ play, including seven clean sheets, since March when Argentina scored in a World Cup qualifying game that ended 1-1.
Netherlands had its seven-game win streak in group-stage play at World Cups ended. The Dutch through the first three games in 2010 and 2014, and then opened in Qatar by beating Senegal 2-0.
Top: England’s John Stones vies for the ball with Christian Pulisic of the United States, right, during the World Cup group B soccer match between England and The United States, at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor , Qatar, on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. Photo: AP /Luca Bruno and published by ABC News
First insert: Goalkeeper Matt Turner of the United States makes a save shot by England’s Mason Mount during the World Cup group B soccer match between England and The United States, at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor , Qatar, on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. Photo: AP /Julio Cortez and published by Yahoo!sports
Second insert: Ecuador’s Enner Valencia celebrates with his teammates after scoring his side’s first goal during the World Cup group A soccer match between Netherlands and Ecuador, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. Photo: AP /Natacha Pisarenko published by ABC News
Front Page: England’s goalkeeper Jordan Pickford leaps for a save during the World Cup group B soccer match between England and The United States, at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor , Qatar, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. Photo: AP /Luca Bruno and published by Yahoo!sports