A brilliant hat-trick by Lionel Messi takes Argentina to the 2018 World Cup berth
Montevideo/ Uruguay, October 11: Lionel Messi, with a brilliant hat-trick on Tuesday, fired Argentina into the World Cup. While the South American champions, Chile suffered a shock elimination.
Single-handedly, Messi resurrected Argentina’s hopes. A 3-1 win over Ecuador in Quito drew a line under a chaotic campaign. It had left the two-time champions in danger of failing to qualify.
After Ecuador had stunned the visitors with an opening goal from Romario Ibarra after 38 seconds, the Barcelona superstar scored twice inside the opening 20 minutes to give Argentina the lead.
With a sublime chip in the second half to seal the victory, Messi completed his hat-trick which is the 44th of his dazzling career.
At next year’s finals in Russia, the Argentinian superstar can look forward to his fourth appearance at the World Cup. There he will attempt once more to lead his country to an elusive major title.
Messi has twice suffered agony at major tournaments with Argentina when his country defeated to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final, losing the finals of both the 2015 Copa America and the 2016 Copa America Centenario.
Turning 31 during next year’s World Cup, Messi has one final chance to emulate his idol Diego Maradona by lifting the World Cup.
Following Tuesday’s win, the third coach appointed during the qualifying campaign, Jorge Sampaoli could not avoid expressing his gratitude to Messi.
Sampaoli asserted, “Messi doesn’t owe a World Cup to Argentina — football owes a World Cup to Messi.” He added that Messi is the best player in history and it was a team victory playing a brilliant match.
“I take full responsibility,” Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi announced his resignation following the exit. Pizzi added, “we gave everything but it was not enough, I will not continue.”