Knowing a win would guarantee their progress, it took just five minutes and four seconds for the Dutch to lead, with Cody Gakpo continuing his World Cup glory with a powerful strike from the edge of the box that beat Hernan Galindez in the end.
Ecuador had switched to a five-man defense to deal with their opponents, with the security of beating Qatar in their opener, but soon had to rethink their approach.
However, the Netherlands failed to extend their lead and La Tri came back into the game, Michael Estrada’s dangerous shot through goal beating the crowd before Enner Valencia’s long shot forced a stop.
The biggest warning sign came when Pervis Estupinan turned a drive from Angelo Preciado into the net in the first half, only for the flag to go up due to Jackson Porozo blocking the goalkeeper’s view from a offside position.
The offside flag went Ecuador’s way after the break as Enner Valencia netted an equalizer in the 49th minute. Estupinan’s shot was parried into the veteran striker’s path, and a simple finish was confirmed after replays showed he was behind Nathan Ake on the initial attempt.
It elevated the former West Ham man alongside Eusebio and Paolo Rossi as one of only four players to have scored each of their country’s six consecutive World Cup goals.
On the hour mark, the South Americans were an inch away from taking the lead as Preciado’s overtaking left space for Valencia to fire. A good counter sends the ball in the direction of Gonzalo Plata, who unleashes a ferocious strike that smashes the underside of the crossbar.
The Netherlands struggled to produce a remarkable opportunity as the final whistle approached, perhaps knowing that with Qatar – who were knocked out by the result – next door, their place in the 16 last was probably assured even if tonight’s opportunity has passed. them by.
Senegal await Ecuador, meanwhile, with one point enough for La Tri to progress with the Group A runners-up to the English Group B winners.
However, losing the Valencia star striker to late injury, as he was taken off on a stretcher, will be a concern in this decider’s preparation.