By Pilar Suarez in Curitiba
Ecuador boss Reinaldo Rueda hailed his side’s clinical finishing as they edged out Honduras 2-1 in a close encounter in Curitiba on Friday.
Enner Valencia scored both goals after Carlo Costly had put Honduras in front just after the half-hour mark.
His second of the evening, after 65 minutes, proved to be the winner at the Arena de Baixada.
Ecuador climb into second in World Cup Group E, behind a France team they face on Wednesday, while Honduras are still technically alive despite being bottom without a point.
Rueda said: “I think both teams played with a lot of intensity but the difference was the things we did in possession and, of course, the goals.
“We knew it was not going to be easy to find a way through Honduras because of their courage but the goals were enough for us to get the points.”
Rueda reserved special praise for Valencia, who stepped into the starting XI following the tragic death of Christian Benitez.
“Enner’s arrival in the national team has been very important,” he said. “He has been here for 10 months, has grown up and improved a lot.”
Rueda defended captain Antonio Valencia who struggled to make an impact and appears well short of his best form.
“Antonio had problems today because [Roger] Espinoza and [Emilio] Izaguirre know him very well,” he explained.
“We know he didn’t have a good ending in the Premier League, he didn’t play much over the last month with Manchester United because of a lot of factors including the crisis at United. That affects a player but we know Antonio’s virtues and we know he will improve.”