Only nine places remain for next summer's World Cup

Arnold Nichols
October 12, 2017

The victory lifted Argentina to third on the South American qualifying standings from sixth, with the top four teams automatically qualifying for 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation.

A hat-trick against an Ecuador, ranked 35th in the world, may very well sound par for the course for a player of Messi's calibre.

"There was always the fear of coming here to play". Neutrals will also hope for a good performance from Argentina and pick three points to stay alive in the World Cup race.

Lionel Messi threw his shirt at Argentinian fans: the suffering was over and it was time to celebrate the Albiceleste's last-gasp qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation, but also in full knowledge that many things will need to change before June.

Argentina still needed to win the game as a draw wasn't enough to save them elimination from World Cup for the first time since 1970.

'We were calm, we achieved the goal and that is the most important thing.

"As national team players we have gone through many situations. The group deserved to qualify".

"The only ones who would be happy if Messi doesn't go to the World Cup would be Maradona fans because, that way, they can keep saying that he's the best".

Argentina has been one of the most disappointing national teams in the world, now sixth in the CONMEBOL region with 25 points. We had to play with that in mind.

"We had the possibility to help him to be in another World Cup".

After his first global hat-trick, Messi scored the next two triple goals in merely one and a half year.

There were songs, some with rude references to reporters who had questioned the players, and Messi ended his self-imposed media ban and addressed Argentinian reporters for the first time in nearly a year. Messi is the only player in history to win five FIFA Ballon d'Or awards and his entry into the FIFA 2018 World Cup is bound to make the game all the more fun and entertaining.

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