Enner Valencia underlines World Cup heritage with opening brace against Qatar

Maybe players are less likely to emerge, unknown, into our imaginations than they once were. Ecuador, for example, had two players in their starting line-up who have already caught the eye for Brighton in the Premier League this season in Moises Caicedo and Pervis Estupinian. But apart from his infamous buggy escape, Valencia had largely disappeared from our attention since leaving Everton in 2017 – and after a loan spell that returned three goals in 23 appearances.

It was Valencia’s three goals at the 2014 World Cup, which included a brace in Ecuador’s 2-1 win over Honduras, that earned him a £14m move to West Ham. In Brazil, only James Rodriguez, Thomas Muller, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Robin van Persie finished the tournament having scored more than his three goals – and they all featured in the knockout stages of the tournament while Ecuador failed to make it out of the group stages.

Qatar, in fairness, did not offer much of a challenge. The goalkeeper, Saad Al Sheeb, brought down Valencia for the penalty after being fortunate that the opening goal was disallowed. The most fight the hosts put up was in nibbling at Valencia, resulting in him hobbling off before full time. He departed as the early and unexpected leader in the Golden Boot standings and, if he keeps this up, a move to West Ham in January may follow too.

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