Messi hat-trick rescues Argentina | daily-sun.com

Messi hat-trick rescues Argentina

Afp, Montevideo     12 October, 2017 12:00 AM printer

Messi hat-trick rescues Argentina

Argentina forward Lionel Messi, left, celebrates after scoring against Ecuador during their 2018 World Cup qualifier in Quito on Wednesday. Argentina won 3-1.

Lionel Messi fired Argentina into the World Cup with a brilliant hat-trick on Tuesday as South American champions Chile suffered a shock elimination.


Messi single-handedly resurrected Argentina’s hopes in a 3-1 win over Ecuador in Quito that drew a line under a chaotic campaign that had left the two-time champions in danger of failing to qualify.


The Barcelona superstar scored twice inside the opening 20 minutes to give Argentina the lead after Ecuador had stunned the visitors with an opening goal after from Romario Ibarra after 38 seconds.


Messi then completed his hat-trick — the 44th of his dazzling career — with a sublime chip in the second half to seal the victory.


The Argentinian superstar can now look forward to his fourth appearance at the World Cup at next year’s finals in Russia, where he will attempt once more to lead his country to an elusive major title.


Since his country’s defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final, Messi has twice suffered agony at major tournaments with Argentina, losing the finals of both the 2015 Copa America and the 2016 Copa America Centenario.


Messi, who will turn 31 during next year’s World Cup, now has one, perhaps final, chance to emulate his idol Diego Maradona by lifting the World Cup.


Relieved Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli — the third coach appointed during the qualifying campaign — could not avoid expressing his gratitude to Messi following Tuesday’s win.


“Messi doesn’t owe a World Cup to Argentina — football owes a World Cup to Messi,” Sampaoli said.


“He’s the best player in history. This is a team victory.

They played a brilliant match.”


Messi later told reporters the prospect of not qualifying had weighed heavily on the squad.


“It would have been crazy for Argentina, for all of us,” he said. “Obviously there was that fear, but today we knew how to play.”


The striker said he expects Argentina to improve now the pressure of qualifying has liften.


The Chileans — winners of the Copa America in 2015 and 2016 — were soundly beaten 3-0 by Brazil in Sao Paulo to see themselves eliminated on goal difference.


The Chileans finished level on points with Peru, who secured a two-leg playoff against New Zealand, but trailed on goal difference. Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi announced his resignation following the exit.


Peru meanwhile kept alive their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 1982 with a fighting 1-1 draw with Colombia in Lima.


Uruguay, who finished the standings in second place, were jolted by a Gaston Silva own goal which gave Bolivia the lead on 24 minutes.


Martin Caceres and Edinson Cavani scored twice just before half-time to give Uruguay the lead before two goals from Luis Suarez put the hosts 4-1 up.


In the day's other game, Paraguay's hopes of qualification evaporated in a 1-0 loss to Venezuela in Asuncion.


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