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Valencia double rescues Ecuador


La Paz (AFP) – Everton striker Enner Valencia put the seal on a tumultuous week with two goals as Ecuador came from behind to snatch a dramatic 2-2 draw with Bolivia in South America’s World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday.

Valencia lashed home an 89th-minute leveler to give Ecuador a share of the points after earlier giving his team hope with a 48th-minute goal.

The England-based Valencia’s rescue act came after Bolivia had taken a 2-0 first-half lead courtesy of two stunning long-range efforts from veteran striker Pablo Escobar.

Escobar uncorked a 30-yard thunderbolt to fire Bolivia into the lead after only four minutes before thumping in another ferocious shot two minutes before half-time to make it 2-0 in La Paz.

But Valencia’s second-half double gave Ecuador a share of the points and denied Bolivia what would have been a vital third win in South America’s race for places at the 2018 World Cup.

The draw leaves Bolivia one place from bottom of the 10-team standings with eight points from 10 games. Ecuador are in third with 17 points.

Valencia’s goals capped a dramatic week of duty with the international team.

Last week the 26-year-old was at the center of a bizarre incident during Ecuador’s win over Chile in Quito when he was accused of feigning injury during the match to avoid police officers waiting on the sidelines trying to arrest him in connection with an alimony dispute.

Valencia was carried from the field on a medical buggy with police comically in pursuit before the player successfully managed to avoid capture.

The legal drama — which stemmed from Valencia’s alleged failure to pay alimony of around $17,000 to his ex-wife — was later settled when his arrest warrant was rescinded. 

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