Enner Valencia scored twice as Ecuador boost their chances of joining Group E leaders France in the last 16 with a narrow win over Honduras on Friday.
Carlo Costly placed Honduras ahead a minute after the half-hour mark. His goal was Honduras’ first in World Cup for 32 years. The ex-Birmingham striker chest down a massive pull-out from his own goalkeeper, beat off his marker, before smashing past keeper Alexander Dominguez.
E. Valencia swiftly cancelled out fellow Latin American opponents’ lead less than three minutes later, when he diverted in a wayward shot by team-mate Juan Paredes at the far post.
Jerry Bengston thought he had restored the one-goal cushion in first-half injury-time, but his effort off a Costly rebounded header was denied by Australian referee Benjamin Williams for offside.
E. Valencia then put coach Reinaldo Rueda’s side in front on 65 minutes to the delight of thousands of Ecuadorian supporters, who have traveled across the South American borders to Brazil.
The 25-year-old, who currently plays as a midfielder for Mexican club CF Pachuca, was contended with his match-winning brace in the end, despite being denied a hat-trick goal because his namesake Antonio Valencia handled the ball in the counter-attack build up to the 90th minute strike.
Honduras- the only Group E team yet to win a match- could still qualify, if they beat Switzerland in their final match and France thrash Ecuador by a least a five-goal margin.
France- leading by 3 points and +6 goal difference- thrashed Switzerland 5-2 earlier on Friday and now need a point to at-least secure their passage into the next round.