Enner Valencia scores 2 more, leads Ecuador to needed win over Honduras
CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) - Ecuador forward Enner Valencia scored twice in a 2-1 comeback victory over Honduras on Friday that kept his team in contention at the World Cup. Ecuador moved into second spot in Group E with a game remaining against group-leading France, which has tallied eight goals and conceded two in a pair of dominating wins.
Honduras took the lead in the 31st minute with its first World Cup goal in 32 years when Carlo Costly latched onto a long ball following a misjudgment from Ecuador defender Jorge Guagua. The goal ended a 511-minute drought that stretched back to the 1982 World Cup.
Valencia equalized three minutes later, tapping in with his left foot from close range after Brayan Beckeles had failed to clear a cross from the right. Honduras applied more of the pressure leading up to halftime and nearly took the lead. A fierce free kick in injury time from Victor Bernardez forced a good save from Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez.
Honduras got the ball in the Ecuador net seconds before the break when a Costly header rebounded off the post into the path of Jerry Bengtson, but it was disallowed - apparently for a hand ball. The second half was far less frenzied than the opening 45 minutes and Valencia's winner came in the 65th minute when he out-jumped the Honduras defense to head home a left-sided free kick from Walter Ayovi.
''A very contested match, it was very complicated to deal with the nerves because of everything in play,'' Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suarez said.
Valencia's goals, which take his tournament tally to three, made up for a glaring miss earlier in the match that would have given Ecuador an early lead. He blasted over the Honduras bar when through on goal.
Honduras, which has never won a World Cup match, isn't completely out of contention despite two losses but faces an uphill battle ahead of its last group game against Switzerland, which lost 5-2 to France earlier Friday.
''We still have that possibility, though it is remote and we will fight for it,'' Suarez said.
Honduras lost 3-0 to France in its opener, and Suarez was happier with Friday's performance.
''I think we improved a lot compared with the France match, but we still fell short," he said.
Here's how Ecuador's comeback victory went down: