Magical Messi sees Argentina through to World Cup finals
A magical Lionel Messi hat-trick carried Argentina to a 3-1 win over Ecuador on Tuesday (October 10) and booked their place at next year’s World Cup finals in Russia.
With Argentina facing the dire possibility of missing out on a World Cup for the first time since 1970, their brilliant captain delivered when it mattered most with three goals in Quito.
While coach Jorge Sampaoli was delighted with his captain’s performance, he said the side had to stop relying on him so much.
The twice World Cup winners finished third in the 10-team South American group, going through with Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia as the automatic qualifiers, while Peru grabbed a playoff place against Oceania champions New Zealand at the expense of Chile.
Messi netted 21 goals over the course of the South American tournament, joining Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, his team mate at Barcelona, as the all-time joint top scorers in CONMEBOL qualifiers.