SPORT

Ecuador strolls into second round for first time





HAMBURG: Ecuador strolled past Costa Rica 3-0 and into the second round of the World Cup on Thursday for the first time in its history.

Goals in either half from Carlos Tenorio (8th minute) and Agustin Delgado (54th) and then a late strike from Ivan Kaviedes kept the South Americans' 100 per cent record in Group A intact following a 2-0 win over Poland in its opening match.

Germany is also through, having beaten Poland 1-0 in Dortmund on Wednesday.

Degado and Tenorio were also the goalscorers against the Poles.

Delgado happy

``We're very happy for having qualified, aside from me having scored another goal for my team,'' Delgado said. ``We're now thinking about being group leaders. We think about winning every game.''

The group winner will be decided when Ecuador meets host Germany next Tuesday. The Ticos, meanwhile, head home after the first phase for a second successive finals. Four years ago, the Ticos lost out to Turkey on goal difference.

Despite early pressure from Costa Rica, Ecuador opened the scoring after eight minutes when Tenorio headed home from a nicely floated cross by Luis Valencia.

Costa Rica came out fighting once again in the second half, but its enthusiasm was short-lived as Ecuador doubled its tally in the 54th minute with a superbly taken goal.

Rifling it in

Edison Mendez won the ball on the right hand corner of the box before Delgado pounced on to the loose ball, controlled it with his chest, before rifling home from a tight angle.

Two minutes into injury time, Kaviedes turned the ball in with a volley after a cross from the right to make it three. The early goal in the first half seemed to settle the South Americans and they began to take control of the game, stringing together long pieces of passing play

Their opponents were reduced to long range shots which never really troubled Ecuador.

Goalkeeper Cristian Mora, again playing with Ecuador flags painted on his cheeks, jumped for joy after Delgado's goal built a two-goal margin early in the second half.

Historically, the Tricolors have found success only at their home field in Quito, more than 2,700 metres above sea level. But after winning only once in 10 games coming into their second World Cup, the South Americans have now won two in a row.

Tenorio scored his seventh goal in 31 international appearances after some nifty passing in the midfield. The ball was played to Valencia on the right flank, and he crossed around Marin to Tenorio, who burst ahead of Douglas Sequeira and beat goalkeeper Jose Porras with a header from close range.

Considered the successor to Delgado as Ecuador's top scorer, Tenorio left the game at halftime.

Delgado got his goal 31st goal in 70 appearances following a throw in, exchanging passes, bursting between Marin and Michael Umana, and then beating Porras to the near post. Kaviedes' goal was his 14th in 46 games for Ecuador.

``The team has been playing together for quite some time. We have a system that every player knows to perfection,'' Delgado said. ``We want to win the next game, even though we're in the second round.''

While the Ecuadorean fans, dressed in canary yellow, sang and banged drums in one corner, Ticos' supporters, clad in red in the other corner, were stunned into silence for long stretches. Agencies