by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (June 20th 2014)
Ecuadorʼs hope for a miracle didnʼt materialise. Segundo Castillo Nazareno didnʼt recover from his injury, but Ecuador possess the most in form striker in Brasil. Enner Valencia Lastraʼs brace tonight took his scoring spree to seven in his last six internationals. Valencia incredibly still flies under radar despite his recent record.
Hondurasʼ brash overly physical style has many critics, but they proved tonight that they could play football too. With both sides needing a win to keep their World Cup hopes alive, they had to attack and did. Veteran goal-keeper Noel Valladares Bonillaʼs long kick flicked off Jorge Guagua Tamayoʼs head under challenge from Carlo Costly Molina. Costly continued towards the area shooting past Alexander Domínguez Carabalí.
It was Hondurasʼ first goal in the World Cup Finals for 32 years and the Hondurans celebrated accordingly, but the lead was short-lived. Less than three minutes later the defensive error was equalised by another at the other end. Juan Carlos Parades Reascoʼs cross deflected off Maynor Figueroa Róchez to the back post. Valencia reacted while Víctor Bernárdez Blanco failed to react, leaving Ecuadorʼs striker with a tap-in.
Valencia plays in México for Pachuca, although performances in Brasil may result in a move to a bigger club. Walter Ayoví Corozo has developed an exceptional understanding with Valencia. They play for the same club. Ayovíʼs free-kick was met with a powerful header for his second tonight – the winner. It was the third assist the left-back/midfielder had provided to Valencia in his last four goals for Ecuador.
Valencia should have had at least one other, but when put through by Manchester Unitedʼs Antonio Valencia Mosquera who had been restored to the captaincy by Reinaldo Rueda Rivera, but his shot went over the bar. Jefferson Montero Vite failed to deliver on his enormous potential while Felipe Caicedo Corozo impressed both with his talent and sportsmanship.
Despite contact by Figeuroa in the area Caicedo stayed on his feet, but having lost his balance could not shoot. Had he gone down he would probably have got a penalty. Costly, Bernárdez and Figueroa tried long-range shots, but Domínguez was not to be beaten in that fashion.
Enner Valencia could have completed his hat-trick if referee Benjamin Williams had the benefit of a replay. Substitute Juan Carlos García cleared in the 93rd minute. Antonio Valencia turned around and it hit his hand. Valencia then put his namesake – no relation – through on goal. Enner scored, but Williams had given the free-kick for handball earlier. It wasnʼt the only goal disallowed.
Honduras had two ruled out. The first happened in injury time in the first half and deservedly resulted in the New England Revolutionʼs striker Jerry Bengtson being cautioned. Firstly he was offside when Costly headed Brayan Beckelesʼ cross onto the bar and secondly Bengtson had scored with his hand. He deserved his yellow card, but continued arguing at half time.
With numerous howlers having been committed by officials in this tournament here was an example where they were proved right. Costly scored later, but was offside when put through by Roger Espinoza Ramírez. Both players readily accepted the decision, which was also correct.