Valencia: Ecuador's 'life was at stake'
Enner Valencia said Ecuador's "life was at stake" during their match against Honduras, but his two goals gave his team the victory on Friday and a little room to breathe in Group E.
Honduras took an early lead, but Valencia scored either side of halftime to give his team a 2-1 win and their first points of the tournament.
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Although France top Group E with six points, Ecuador now sit in second place, with an even goal difference giving them an advantage over Switzerland, who are minus-2 through two games.
"The most important thing is obtaining three points. Our life was at stake in this match," Valencia said. "Thank God we got the three points. We know the standing and ranking of France in the world and we have to study how we can play against them and cause damage.
"The joy that we lived in the dressing room with the team and members of the staff after the game is something we will take with us to our very last match so we can come up with three additional points."
Valencia, who only earned his first cap in 2012, has now scored seven goals in his past six internationals.
"Thank God this dream is becoming a reality and that is thanks to the coaching staff, as I'm part of this team and I always want to be here,"
Valencia's success is especially impressive considering manager Reinaldo Rueda moved Valencia to striker from winger only when he was needed to fill in after the death of Christian "Chucho" Benitez in 2013.
"Enner's arrival in the national squad has allowed him to grow and improve," Rueda said. "Today, there was work that had to be done by Felipe [Caicedo] in order for Enner to continue his run of scoring goals. It was timely and intelligent."
After falling to Switzerland in their opener, Rueda said Ecuador improved against Honduras.
"The match ended up being as we foresaw because of the conditions of both squads," he said. "It proved to be a very strong opponent. Fortunately, we scored the goals in due course and in the end, we controlled Honduras' reaction.
"This was a completely different match than we played against Switzerland. They play a completely different style of football. Today, we knew that there was going to be a lot of aerial play."
Ecuador will qualify for the knockout stage with a win unless Switzerland win by two more goals in their game, but Rueda said his side will take the same approach against France as they did against Honduras.
"France is an opponent that have grown and shown that in their two matches," Rueda said. "This will be a difficult match and we have to play just the same or better than the way we played today.
"Hopefully, Honduras can play a wonderful match so it will benefit us. We also have to come out victorious against France."