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Ecuador.

Ecuador suspend five players in aftermath of 3-1 defeat to Argentina

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Tuesday night's Leo Messi inspired 3-1 Argentina comeback win over Ecuador secured their spot at next summer's 2018 World Cup in Russia.

'La Albiceleste' were in serious danger of missing out, having managed just one goal in their previous four World Cup qualifiers.

Their 30-year-old captain came to the rescue. Messi scored a stunning hat-trick to remind fans why he is considered by many as the finest player to ever grace a football pitch.

Despite taking maximum points from their first four qualifiers, Ecuador missed out on qualification alongside Chile - and there has been plenty of backlash since.

On Twitter, controversial English midfielder Joey Barton incredibly accused one Ecuador defender of match-fixing.

Currently suspended for gambling on football, the 35-year-old noted the player's involvement in each of Messi's three goals was "not quite right."

Ecuador had no chance of qualifying heading into the final game at home to Argentina.

Ecuador FA suspend five players

Chairman of the Ecuadorian Football Federation Carlos Villacís confirmed the news on Thursday evening, suspending five players from future national team games because they sneaked out the hotel whilst on duty.

FBL-WC-2018-ECU-ARG

The statements reads as follows: "Once (coach) Jorge Celico's report was with us, with the details of all the facts, the committee decide unanimously to suspend indefinitely the five players involved from all Ecuadorian national team activities.

"The act of indiscipline they committed was to have left the national team headquarters at midnight Friday and return at 02.20 in the morning.

"It is a very hard decision, painful for the boys, but undoubtedly was a decision that had to be made, setting a precedent for the future, for the next players called to the national team."

Ecuador, who have qualified for three of the last four World Cups, were beaten 2-1 by Chile on Friday night to end their slim hopes of qualifying.

FBL-WC-2018-CHI-ECU

Villacís refused to reveal the five players but Ecuadorian news outlet El Comercio named them as Enner Valencia, Jefferson Orejuela, Robert Arboleda, Gabriel Cortés and Joao Plata.

Dario Aimar - the man accused by Barton - was reportedly not one of the five players to be banned.

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Topics:
Joey Barton
Argentina Football
Football
Lionel Messi
World Cup

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