By Pan Pylas Associated Press
CURITIBA, Brazil — 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 goal at the World Cup 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 tournament.
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 Bernandex 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 his strike partner, Jerry Bengtson. The goal 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.
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 but faces an uphill battle ahead of its last group game against Switzerland, which lost 5-2 to France earlier Friday.