'Mission accomplished' for Ecuador
Ecuador's press corps have reacted to their country's elimination from the FIFA World Cup with grace and gratitude.
Luis Suarez, so often the recipient of media criticism in the run-up to the tournament, has drawn praise and admiration from all quarters for having guided La Tri to a place among the 16 best teams in the world. Even for the demanding Ecuadorian press, it would seem that it is a case of 'mission accomplished'.
"Thank you Tricolor" ran the headline in the Monday edition of the national daily El Comercio. While admitting that David Beckham's free-kick winner was a "majestic strike", the paper was adamant in its view that only a wonder goal "was enough for England to knock Ecuador out of the World Cup". Suarez's men, the paper went on to say, "can be satisfied with their campaign".
England 1-0 Ecuador report
El Diario also chose to dedicate its main story to the match. "We're coming home with our heads held high," was the verdict. The England goal was dismissed as "exceptional" as the paper focused all its attention on the outstanding performance of the Ecuador players. "They put this country on the map, and above all they united their nation with their excellent football."
The front page of the paper's sports section echoed those lofty sentiments, with the words "Thank you" superimposed on a photograph of Ecuador's starting XI against Sven-Goran Eriksson's England.
The paper's website adopted a similarly satisfied tone with its headline "Mission accomplished". La Tri's elimination from the tournament was cast almost as an occupational hazard, with the website claiming: "There is nothing to criticise. On the contrary, 13 million Ecuadorians took the defeat against England with maturity."
Meanwhile, the home page of El Universo's online edition exclaimed: "Thank you team!" In its sports section, it demanded recognition for Suarez's side, while pointing out that, for the coach, the most significant achievement was to "earn the respect of powerful opponents such as England". In its view, "la Tri played progressive, spirited football, and were considered the revelation (of the tournament)".
The Guayaquil-based newspaper Expreso went even further, describing the South Americans' elimination in noble terms: "A great team bids farewell." More bouquets were thrown in the direction of the squad, as the paper sought to commend, not condemn, the efforts of Suarez's men. "When they play with their soul, on an equal footing, and they lose, the players leave behind an aura of greatness in spite of the arguments."
History will take away the memories of the defeat, it declared, before adding: "Ecuador played with style, fought until the end and left a great impression of our country for the rest of the world to see. By the end, England were devoid of ideas and tried to waste time."
Football fever has so gripped the South American country that even the website of the main business daily, Hoy, dedicated its main headline to the match. "La Tri return home after good showing in Germany." Column inches usually reserved for stock market analysis were taken up with a critique of Ecuador's performance. "The team never lost faith in their system, worked hard to close down the opposition and had plenty of good play up to the final third. However, they lacked the cutting edge in attack that had been present in the first two games."
On the subject of the coach's future, finally, the paper refused to be drawn into speculation: "Suarez will decide once he has come back from his holidays." However, if, as the paper claims, "the fans were very satisfied in spite of the defeat", then Suarez should have very little to worry about.