13 minutes: The Netherlands players are all hustle and bustle, not giving their South American counterparts a moment to settle on the ball as they attempt to get out of their own half and get forward.
11 minutes: Ecuador free-kick, a long way out. The ball’s play wide to Preciado, who sends it into the Dutch penalty area. It’s headed across the face of the penalty area, half-cleared and breaks for Enner Valencia. His shot on the volley comes off the head of Virgil van Dijk.
8 minutes: A slightly shell-shocked Ecuador attempt to regain their composure after that early Dutch hammerblow, passing the ball around at the back. They venture out of their own half down by the halfway line only for Denzel Dumfries to nip in and put the ball out of play for a throw-in.
6 minutes: That’s a terrific finish from the highly sought after Cody Gakpo, who rifles the ball into the top corner from outside the Ecuador penalty area after being teeed up by Davy Klaassen. Ecuador’s long run of over 11 hours without conceding comes to a very abrupt end.
Cody Gakpo fires the Netherlands ahead!
4 minutes: There’s an early break in play as the referee takes pity on Angelo Preciado, the Ecuadorian right wing-back who is sitting on the ground after charging a blow to his crown jewels and looking in serious pain.
3min: The Netherlands dominate possession in these early stages, aiming to beat a team that has not conceded a goal in any of its past seven matches.
2 minutes: There’s an excellent early interception from Piero Hincapie, who slides in to prevent Dutch defender Jurrien Timber from playing the ball down the inside right and in behind the Ecuador defense for Steven Bergwijn to chase.
1min: Ecuador get the ball rolling, their players wearing navy shirts, white shorts and white socks. The players of the Netherlands wear all orange kit.
Not long now: Enner Valencia and Virgil van Dijk lead their teams out, following referee Mustapha Ghorbal and his team of match officials. They line up either side of the officials and it’s time for the national anthems.
Group A Match report: Qatar 1-3 Senegal. Paul MacInnes was at Al Thumama Stadium to see Senegal leave the host nation’s chances of advancing to the knockout stages hanging by an extremely frayed thread. Qatar now need Ecuador to beat the Netherlands or they will be reduced to playing against Louis van Gaal’s side for nothing more than pride in their final group game.
Those teams: For the second match in a row, Memphis Depay starts on the Netherlands bench, his recovery from a hamstring injury apparently not fully complete. Louis van Gaal makes two changes, with Jurrien Timber and Teun Koopmeiners coming in for Mattihjs de Ligt and Steven Berghuis.
Ecuador manager Gustavo Alfaro appears to be switching to a back five. He makes one change to the side that beat Qatar. Jackson Porozo comes in at centre-back while midfielder Romario Ibarra makes his way.
Holland: Noppert, Timber, van Dijk, Ake, Dumfries, Koopmeiners, Frenkie de Jong, Blind, Klaassen, Gakpo, Bergwijn.
Subs: Pasveer, de Ligt, de Vrij, Luuk de Jong, Depay, Berghuis, Lang, Bijlow, de Roon, Malacia, Janssen, Weghorst, Taylor, Simons, Frimpong.
Ecuador: Galindez, Angelo Preciado, Porozo, Torres, Hincapie, Estupinan, Plata, Mendez, Caicedo, Estrada, Valencia.
Subs: Arboleda, Cifuentes, Pacho, Gruezo, Ayrton Preciado, Ibarra, Ramirez, Arreaga, Mena, Sarmiento, Palacios, Franco, Dominguez, Reasco, Rodriguez.
Qatar 1-3 Senegal: It’s all over in today’s other group game and the African champions have won. Qatar will be eliminated if the Dutch avoid defeat in their game against Ecuador. Should the Dutch win by three goals or more, Senegal will need just one point from their final fixture against Ecuador to advance to the knockout stages.
Qatar vs Senegal: Bamba Dieng puts Senegal 3-1 up against Qatar with just six minutes left on the clock. The jig looks up well and truly up for the hosts despite a much improved second half performance.
Qatar vs Senegal: Mohammed Muntari has just come off the bench to score with a bullet header for Qatar against Senegal, reducing the host country’s deficit in the game to one goal. They trail 2-1 with 10 minutes (and the rest) to go and need another goal or they will need several snookers to qualify for the knockout stages. Boulaye Dia and Famara Diédhiou had put Senegal 2-0 up.
Gustavo Alfaro says: “We have everything to win and nothing to lose,” said Ecuador’s manager ahead of today’s game. “I’m happy with my team. But Holland is a big rival. We have to be strong on all fronts, emotional and physical, and run them hard until they exit the pitch. What we did against Qatar will be insufficient against Holland or Senegal, we have to improve.”
Louis van Gaal says: “Ecuador is a stable team,” said the Netherlands manager at his pre-match press conference. “They’re physically strong with very clever players, shrewd players, which is why I believe that they are tougher than Senegal.”
Asked about the OneLove armband campaign and if his team have any protests planned for today, Van Gaal had this to say. “No.” We put a full stop after all the political issues past Thursday. We have this purpose and we’re not going to have that tarnished by the actions of FIFA or whichever other organisation. But I’ve already responded… I think that’s enough.”
Today’s match officials
Referee: Mustapha Gorbal
Assistant referees: Mokrane Gourari and Abdelhak Etchial
Fourth Official: Said Martinez
Video Assistant Referee: Shaun Evans
Not deemed fit enough to start for the Netherlands against Senegal, Memphis Depay got 30 minutes off the bench and could start in place of Vincent Janssen today. Louis van Gaal is expected to field an otherwise unchanged starting line-up.
Forced off with a knee injury 15 minutes to go in his side’s win over Qatar, two-goal hero Enner Valencia is expected to be fit to start for Ecuador. “Enner will play against the Netherlands, there’s no doubt about that,” said his manager Gustavo Alfaro.
The Khalifa International Stadium is the venue for the second of today’s Group A matches, where the Netherlands will take on Ecuador. Both sides won their opening games, with Ecuador recording a routine win against hosts Qatar in the tournament curtain-raiser, while the Netherlands left it late to see off Senegal a day later. Both sides will obviously fancy their advancing to the knockout chances, particularly the Netherlands, who will face Qatar in their final group game.
The host nation, who look the weakest team in the group by far, are currently losing against Senegal elsewhere in Doha and will have practically no chance of qualifying for the last 16 unless they can take something from the game. Kick-off at the Khalifa is at 4pm but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.