A 1-1 draw between Ecuador and the Netherlands kept the battle to escape from Group A tight, as well as condemning Qatar to an early exit.
As in Monday’s win over Senegal, Louis van Gaal’s side were far from at their best, although they still took an early lead when in-demand striker Gakpo powered over from 20 yards.
However, Ecuador were lively throughout and good value for their equaliser, making Valencia only the fourth player in World Cup history to score six consecutive goals for the nation at the tournament, although the striker was injured just before the end of the match. competition.
That could affect his Golden Boot hopes, but Valencia’s strike kept Ecuador and the Oranje joint on four points in Group A and condemned hosts Qatar to an early exit after a 3-1 defeat by Senegal.
The Netherlands needed just six minutes to take the lead and did so in spectacular fashion when Gakpo latched on to Davy Klaassen’s flick before firing into the top left corner.
Ecuador offered a positive response to that setback, however, forcing Virgil van Dijk into two late strikes before Valencia tested Andries Noppert from distance.
La Tri thought they had found an equalizer on the stroke of half-time, but Pervis Estupinan’s instinctive finish was thwarted after Jackson Poroz’s offside was ruled to have blocked Noppert’s view.
Ecuador were not to be denied again within four minutes of the restart as Valencia pounced on the rebound when Noppert saved Estupinan’s effort.
Gustavo Alfaro’s side almost wrapped up an encouraging display with a second when Gonzalo Plata rattled the crossbar with a fine left-footed effort.
However, Ecuador’s spirits were spoiled by a significant blow in the closing exchanges when Valencia was carried off on a stretcher after going down behind the knee.