Men's Team

Ake impresses as the Netherlands and Ecuador share the spoils

Nathan Ake played the full 90 minutes as the Netherlands and Ecuador fought out a 1-1 draw in their second World Cup Group A encounter.

A feisty, fiercely contested clash in Doha saw the Dutch take an early sixth minute lead through Gody Gakpo.

However, Ecuador drew level early in the second half thanks to skipper Enner Valencia to earn a share of the spoils which leaves both sides requiring just a point from their last game to progress through to the last 16

Louis van Gaal’s side were looking to build on their opening win against Senegal and made the perfect start at the Khalifa International Stadium, as Gakpo fired them into a sixth minute lead.

Just as he did against Senegal, the PSV Eindhoven striker found the target, brilliantly firing home from 20 yards after latching onto Davy Klassen’s through ball.

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It was the first goal Ecuador had conceded in more than 11 hours of football and the fastest strike at Qatar 2022 to date.

It also proved a compelling and edgy affair with Ake and Co having to be constantly alert to combat the Ecuadorian threat.

And in first half injury time Ecuador had the ball in the net as Pervis Estupinan instinctively turned and fired home a corner.

It wrongfooted Dutch keeper Andries Noppert but the strike was ruled out as Jackson Porozo was standing offside and in the keeper's line of vision.

However, four minutes after the restart the South Americans did draw level through skipper Enner Valencia as he registered his third goal of the tournament.

Estupinan’s initial drive was well saved by Andries Noppert but Valencia was there following up to tap it home.

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It was the former West Ham and Everton star’s 38th goal in 76 appearances for his country and arguably the most important.

Only the woodwork then prevented Ecuador from going ahead, Gonzalo Plata seeing his stunning 59th minute drive strike evade Noppert but cannon back off the crossbar

And only a superb block from Ake prevented Estrada getting a shot in on goal from 12 yards.

Both sides sought to fashion a late winner but eventually settled for a point which also confirmed hosts Qatar were eliminated after their earlier 3-1 loss to Senegal.

The Netherlands final group game sees them take on Qatar with the match taking place on Tuesday, November 29, kick-off 15.00 (UK).

The winners of Group A play the runners up of Group B which features England, with the Group A second placed team facing the Group B winners.

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