Poland 0 Ecuador 2: Delgado on mark as Ecuador shake Poles
Saturday 10 June 2006
The team from altitude showed some attitude. Ecuador provided a shock in Group A, comfortably defeating Poland, and opened up the possibility that they may meet England should both nations qualify for the last 16. Not that, in truth, there should be too much for England to fear.
Both goals were fashioned with Premiership influences. Agustin Delgado, a horrendous mis-fit at Southampton, created one and scored the other. The second had a whiff of offside but it was as nothing to the stench the Poles, and their beleaguered coach Pawel Janas, now face.
It is the fifth time in a row that they have failed to score in their opening game at a World Cup finals. They struck the crossbar and post late on but were anaemic throughout. By the end, their 35,000 supporters in the stadium, who had poured over the border in expectation, were rebellious, angry and deflated. The South Americans celebrated, having shaken off the tag that they can only win where the air is thin.
This is only their second World Cup, and they finished bottom of their group in 2002, but they have clearly learnt lessons, guided by an astute coach in the Colombian Luis Fernando Suarez. He said: "We achieved our expectations, this is just a step."
But a mighty one at that. The breakthrough came midway through the first half. A throw-in by Aston Villa outcast Ulises de la Cruz, who impressed, was flicked on by Delgado and his strike partner Carlos Tenorio stole in front of Marcin Baszczynski to neatly guide his header past Celtic's Artur Boruc. Delgado almost added a second but scooped Tenorio's drag-back over, while de la Cruz had Boruc scrambling.
After the break, the Poles were finally stung into action but the Ecuadoreans, and their impressive central defenders, stood firm. Time and again, Giovanny Espinoza and captain Ivan Hurtado, in particular, put their bodies on the line.
It paid off, even if Hurtado got hurt. His loss temporarily rocked Ecuador but they rallied brilliantly to cut through the heart of the brittle Polish defence. Suddenly, substitute Ivan Kaviedes, once of Crystal Palace's bench, was released. He looked offside but played the ball forward to Delgado, who rolled the ball into the net.
Ireneusz Jelen and Pawel Brozek struck the woodwork but, once again, the Poles had been pulled apart. Ecuador are flying high.
Poland (4-2-3-1): Boruc (Celtic); Baszczynski (Wisla Krakow), Jop (FK Moscow), Bak (Al Rayyan), Zewlakow (Anderlecht); Radomski (Austria Vienna), Sobolweski (Wisla Krakow); Smolarek (Borussia Dortmund), Szymkowiak (Trabzonspor), Krzynowek (Bayer Leverkusen); Zurawski (Celtic). Substitutes used: Jelen (Plock) for Sobolweski, 67; Kosowski (Southampton) for Krzynowek, 77; Brozek (Krakow) for Zurawski, 84.
Ecuador (4-4-2): Mora (LDU Quito); De La Cruz (Aston Villa), Hurtado (Al Arabi), Espinoza, Reasco (both LDU Quito); Valencia (Recreativo Huelva), Castillo (El Nacional), E Tenario (Barcelona), Mendez (LDU Quito); Delgado (LDU Quito), C Tenorio (Al Sadd). Substitutes used: Kaviedes (Argentinos Juniors) for C Tenorio, 65; Guagua (El Nacional) for Hurtado, 69; Urrutia (LDU Quito) for Delgado, 83.
Referee: T Kamikawa (Japan).
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