Argentina sealed a place in next year’s FIFA World Cup in a very dramatic final day of the qualifying series in the CONMEBOL zone. Barcelona forward, Lionel Messi, turned up when his country needed him the most, as he scored a hattrick in their 3-1 away win at Ecuador.
Messi and Argentina were in danger of missing out of next summer’s party in Russia, after going into the final game of the series outside the qualifying spots in sixth position. It looked like another disappointing day was on the cards for Jorge Sampoali’s men when Ecuador took a 1-0 lead in the first minute through Romario Ibarra.
However, Messi equalised for them ten minutes later, before putting them ahead in the 18th minute, as Argentina went into the break with a 2-1 advantage. After the break, 30-year-old completed his hattrick when he gave Argentina a comfortable 3-1 lead, and they held on to book their place in the 2018 World Cup.
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Following that dramatic win, Argentina sealed automatic qualification after finishing third on the log on 28points.
Elsewhere, Uruguay confirmed their place following a 4-2 win over Bolivia which sealed their spot as runners-up in the series.
Already qualified Brazil ended Chile’s hopes with a 3-0 demolition, Paulinho and Gabriel Jesus (2) the goalscorers. Chile finished sixth on the table with 26points, same as Peru, who sealed the final qualifying spot, fifth, but with a better goal difference.
Peru were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Colombia, who also confirmed their place in Russia as that result saw them finish fourth, the final automatic qualification spot. Peru will now face New Zealand in a two-legged intercontinental play-off, with the chance to end their 36-year absence from the mundial still very much alive.
Brazil 3-0 Chile
Ecuador 1-3 Argentina
Paraguay 0-1 Venezuela
Peru 1-1 Colombia
Uruguay 4-2 Bolivia