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Ecuador coach Reinaldo Rueda declines to blame referee for World Cup exit

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RIO DE JANEIRO — Ecuador coach Reinaldo Rueda called the red card given to midfielder Antonio Valencia "quite unfortunate," but declined to blame Ivory Coast referee Noumandiez Doue for Ecuador's exit from the World Cup after a 0-0 draw Wednesday against France.

Valencia was given a straight red card in the 50th minute card after digging his studs into the leg of French defender Lucas Digne.

Rueda also said little about an elbow by French defender Mamadou Sakho in the eighth minute that appeared to land in the face of Oswaldo Minda. He was not sent off.

"Some of the decisions made by the referee did not favor us," Rueda said. "It's quite regrettable what happened. I believe this is now in the hands of the committee that assesses the behavior of referees. This was not the ideal behavior in many split decisions. I don't think it's worth going into that now."

Ecuador was well organized in the first half, but after Valencia went off it seemed to get even better, gaining inspiration and producing almost as many chances as France.

"It is very tough to play for almost half the match against such a great team and be a man short," said forward Enner Valencia, no relation to Antonio. "But we almost won."

PHOTO: Ecuador's Osvaldo Minda, right, is attended by France's Bacary Sagna during the group E World Cup soccer match between Ecuador and France at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Francois Xavier Marit, pool)
Ecuador's Osvaldo Minda, right, is attended by France's Bacary Sagna during the group E World Cup soccer match between Ecuador and France at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Francois Xavier Marit, pool)

The man of the match was Ecuador keeper Alexander Dominguez, who stopped 13 shots on goal, most with acrobatic saves.

"I have to say, the match did get a bit difficult when we had our man sent off," Dominguez said, talking down his own game.

Rueda, whose contract is up, said any decision about renewal would be made by the Ecuadorean federation. Ecuador failed to become the eighth Latin American team to reach the knock-out stage, joining Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay.

He blamed the 2-1 loss to Switzerland in the opening match — when the Swiss came from behind to win with a goal in the final minute of stoppage time — for sending Ecuador home.

"It seems to me this is a very short tournament, and we paid dearly in that first match with Switzerland," he said. "We did not play at the ideal level and that cost us."


Stephen Wade on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP

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PHOTO: France's Bacary Sagna consoles Ecuador's Osvaldo Minda following Ecuador's 0-0 tie with France during the group E World Cup soccer match between Ecuador and France at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
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