Football fans on social media were left baffled and bemused after Ecuador’s opening goal at the World Cup in Qatar was ruled out after just five minutes – despite no evident offside in the initial replays. Former West Ham and Everton striker Enner Valencia headed home following an acrobatic effort across the face of goal that the striker duly converted to give his side the perfect start in the Middle East.
Yet to the surprise of the watching world, the goal was later ruled out for apparent offside by the seven VAR officials.
At first it was not clear which Ecuador player was adjudged to have been ruled offside, creating further confusion as to why the goal was ruled out.
The header, which came after just 160 seconds, would have been the fastest ever goal at a World Cup finals as Valencia and Ecuador were denied a priceless piece of history.
Football fans on Twitter were immediately confused – questioning the reasons behind the decision to disallow the goal.
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The incident was later cleared up by an official graphic from FIFA that showed that Ecuador forward Michael Estrada’s foot was fractionally offside when he challenged goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb.
Estrada had headed the ball back to Felix Torres, who was on hand to deliver into the danger zone for man of the moment Valencia.
Qatar No 1 Al Sheeb was all at sea for the goal and although he was let off the hook following the decision to disallow the header, he did not cover himself in glory in the opening exchanges of the match.
Moments later, he would bring down Ecuador frontman Valencia as he bared down on goal.
The referee then pointed to the penalty spot as Fenerbahce striker Valencia slotted home with ease for the opening goal of the tournament – this time there would be no doubt.
The 33-year-old would continue his lively start to the tournament later in the half when he headed home a brilliant second in Doha to double Ecuador’s advantage.
Valencia, who looks like an early outside contender for the Golden Boot if he can keep up his prolific goalscoring rate, found the net three times at the 2014 finals in Brazil to earn himself a move to the Premier League from Mexican side Pachuca.
Netherlands take on Senegal in the other fixture in Group A on Monday afternoon.