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Five Aside
By ESPN Staff

Ecuador coach praises defeated players

Ecuador coach Luis Fernando Suarez hailed his players despite their World Cup exit after giving England a testing time in their 1-0 defeat in Stuttgart.

David Beckham scored the only goal from a 60th-minute free-kick but Ecuador could have been ahead in the first half had Ashley Cole not got back to deflect Carlos Tenorio's shot onto the crossbar.

'England respected us a lot and it demonstrated how the England coach has been thinking about us,' said Suarez.

'England played us differently than Costa Rica or Poland (two of Ecuador's group opponents), it was very complicated for both teams to approach the last quarter of the pitch.

'It was a very well-played game tactically, that's why there weren't so many chances to score.

'But I think that things would have been even more important for us if Tenorio had scored in the first half.'

Suarez felt his side, who surprised many by finishing runners-up to hosts Germany in the group stage, had justified their presence in the tournament.

'Ecuador beat the World Cup. Ecuador beat a lot of sceptical people,' he said.

'People believed Ecuador were a team who win only because they take profit from their geographical height (their capital Quito is more than 9,000ft above sea level). We must be very satisfied.

'I'm proud of my players. I couldn't have been here if I hadn't had the players I have. I make public my admiration to them.

'The World Cup is a spectacular tournament, an experience that I hadn't believed could be so big.

'But it is tiring. I want to go back to my homeland, be with my family and analyse what we'll do from now onwards, to forget football for some time.'