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Leo Messi.

Individual highlights of Leo Messi's hat-trick v Ecuador are out of this world

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Jorge Sampaoli's Argentina were on the brink of missing out on the 2018 World Cup until Leo Messi came to the rescue.

La Albiceleste went 1-0 down to Ecuador on Tuesday night and - having managed just one goal in their last four World Cup qualifiers - needed to turn it round or else miss out on a World Cup for the first time since 1970.

Barcelona's star man took it upon himself to drag Argentina into the draw for next summer's World Cup in Russia.

Messi, who is widely regarded as the greatest to ever play the game, scored a stunning hat-trick in a 3-1 comeback win to guide Argentina into 3rd.

Chile and Alexis Sanchez paid the price for Argentina's qualification, finishing 6th and thus missing out on a spot at the World Cup following a 3-0 defeat to Brazil.

Ultimately, the final round of World Cup qualifiers was all about Messi - the man single-handedly salvaged Argentina's horrendous qualification campaign with one of his finest ever performances.

Argentina's coach Sampaoli was unsurprisingly waxing lyrical about the 30-year-old genius in his post-match comments.

FBL-ARGENTINA-SAMPAOLI

"I told the group: Messi did not owe the World Cup to Argentina, but football owed the World Cup to Messi.

"The nationality of the best player in the world is luckily Argentine."

"Football, the World Cup, could not be left without Messi. We had to play with that in mind. As a consequence of that pressure, we are stronger now, this qualification will make us stronger to face the future.

"We had the possibility to help him to be in another World Cup. He is the best player in the history of soccer and I'm very excited to be in a group near him."

FBL-WC-2018-ECU-ARG

Speaking after the 3-1 win, Messi admitted that it would have been "crazy" if Argentina were not involved next summer.

"Fortunately everything went well and we are into the World Cup," said a relieved Messi. "We are calm now after achieving the main goal, that is the most important thing. All this time that we were away from the press and the fans helped us to be closer.

"It would have been crazy a World Cup without Argentina, this group didn't deserve it. The team will change, will grow a lot and will come out stronger."

On Tuesday night, Ronaldo and Messi both secured their places at next summer's World Cup. Who else is excited?

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Topics:
Argentina Football
Football
Andres Iniesta

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