The match began in controversial fashion, with Valencia having a goal ruled out for offside.
But it was only the focus for a few minutes, as the former West Ham United and Everton striker put the disappointment of having that goal disallowed behind him. He scored twice more before half-time to put his side into a very comfortable position.
From there, Qatar were unable to recover — although Almoez Ali did miss a good opportunity to score that would have given his side a chance of coming back after the break.
Neither side looked particularly threatening in the second half, giving Ecuador an important three points to kick off the competition.
The key moment of Qatar vs Ecuador
Bizarrely, it was a moment that had absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the match.
Very few people would have — from a glance alone — ruled Valencia’s goal out for offside. But the video assistant referee and semi-automated offside intervened and clarified that it should be disallowed.
Michael Estrada’s right boot was offside after the ball came off Felix Torres, who was challenging Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb.
Player of the match
It could only be one man — Enner Valencia.
Valencia struck twice in the first half and set his nation up for a comfortable win that will give them real hope of advancing from Group A in this tournament. Very few people will have expected him to shine on this stage as he has, but the 33-year-old striker showed why he has had a career that has taken him to the top level.
Qatar vs Ecuador key statistic
The 2022 World Cup is the first-ever edition of the competition where the opening goal was scored from the penalty spot. Enner Valencia struck from the spot in the 16th minute.
What does it mean?
The result puts Ecuador top of Group A after the opening game. They will be keen to see how the Netherlands and Senegal’s game pans out on Monday because a win for either side will put them in a strong position going into their second game.
For Qatar, who are unlikely to beat either of those teams, this probably ends their hopes of getting a win at their first World Cup.
Ecuador faces the Netherlands on Friday and then Senegal on the following Tuesday. Qatar plays Senegal on Friday before taking on the Netherlands on Tuesday.