Argentina Captain Lionel Messi made the headlines in the South American section of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers when he scored a hatrick to ensure the Albiceleste gain direct access to Russia.
Former Chile Coach, Jorge Sampoli also got his first ever international win in a remarkable style in Quito thanks to Lionel Messi’s hatrick.
Brazil was the only side that had qualified for the 2018 World Cup prior to the last round of matches.
All other teams apart from Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador had the chance to qualify provided other results go your favour.
Ecuador gave Argentina an early scare when they scored as early as the first minute which was specifically 38 seconds from kickoff with final shot of Ibarra. Javier Mascherano could not stop an airal ball that saw Sergio Romero helpless in front of Ibarra.
The Argentines kept their morale on high as they kept knocking on the doors of the vulnerable Ecuador defence.
It was no wonder a classical movement of play between Leo Messi and Di Maria led to the equalizer after 11 minutes of play. The ‘Flea’ would go on to score the second goal seven minutes later when he pounced on a similarly poor pass from Mauro Benedectto.
Argentina came under intense pressure from the Ecadorians but the defensive set up of Mascherano and Otamendi was very well on duty to help goal keeper Sergio Romero deal with less dangerous balls.
Angel Di Maria could have sealed off the game for Argentina when he was given a sublime through pass from Messi but goal keeper Maximo Banguera came out at the right time to deny the PSG attacker the third goal for Argentina.
The second half began with intense pressure from Ecaudor especially Ever Valencia who was tormenting the Argentine defence but could not find his other men to give the cutting edge.
The Barcelona arc man, Messi then slotted home a sublime goal on the 62nd minute to put the game off Ecuador.
Argentina qualify directly with 28 points and placed 3rd behind Brazil and Uruguay but with Chile dropping out.
Messi has now scored 61 goals for Argentina which is a record for the silver men.
ECUADOR, 1 : Banguera; Velasco, Arboleda, Aimar, Ramírez; Orejuela, Cevallos (Valencia, 41 ‘); Ibarra, Intriago (Uchuari, 77 ‘), Romario; and Ordóñez (Estrada, 65 ‘)
ARGENTINA, 3 : Romero; Market, Mascherano, Otamendi; Salvio (Fazio, 90 ‘), Acuña, Enzo Pérez, Biglia; Messi; Di María (Paredes, 84 ‘) and Benedetto (Icardi, 76’)
Goals: 1-0, Ibarra (1 ‘); 1-1, Messi (12 ‘); 1-2, Messi (20 ‘);
1-3, Messi (62 ‘)
Spectators: about 30,000 in the Olympic Stadium of Atahualpa (Quito)
Referee: Anderson Daronco (Brazil).
yellow cards: Cevallos (14 ‘), Acuña (51’), Biglia (61 ‘), Estrada (76’), Mascherano (86 ‘)