When the fixtures for this World Cup first came out, for late on a Friday night, Honduras against Ecuador wouldn’t exactly have been seen as the most engaging clash.
It was a feeling only deepened with the expectation that the European teams would have won the opening games, which precisely proved the case. Switzerland stunned Ecuador in the last minute 2-1, France humiliated Honduras 3-0. Yet, after the exhilarating French thrashed Switzerland 5-2, this group had been turned wide open.
Similarly, this game summed up the chaotically beautiful nature of this World Cup. It wasn’t the most technically proficient match. It was certainly full of errors. It was also full of charm. Enner Valencia scored twice to ensure Ecuador came back from a goal behind to add a real element of frisson to this group. The joy was so gloriously conspicuous.
And, with this team, it has a more deeply emotional edge. The entire squad are recovering from the tragic death of forward Chucho Benitez less than a year go. That may make football seem trivial, but it also ensures that wins like this have a significance beyond the actual result and the fact Ecuador now have a real chance of getting into the second round.
As regards that, Reinaldo Rueda’s side play France, but that may well go their way given that Didier Deschamps’s side are virtually certain of a place in top spot - irrespective of victory or defeat against the South American team - with the healthy state of their goal difference.
After the game, Rueda had that glorious air of someone who had overseen something of overwhelming emotion joy for those involved.
He was quickly looking to the next game.
"France will be a difficult rival, a rival that are growing. But we have to consider all factors. We have to play the game with discipline. I hope we get a positive result."
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