Cometh the hour, cometh Lionel Messi.
The world’s greatest player added another thrilling chapter to his legacy last night by scoring a hat-trick to send Argentina to the 2018 World Cup.
The thought that Messi wouldn’t be in attendance in Russia was one not many football fans were willing to entertain but thanks to his heroics in Argentina’s 3-1 win over Ecuador, we are spared his absence.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side entered the final day of CONMEBOL qualifying in serious danger of missing out on the tournament following an inconsistent campaign in which they drew seven and lost four matches.
And it’s clear that plenty of work is required if Argentina are to stand a chance of winning the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
But with Messi at his electrifying best, no nation will want to come up against La Albiceleste in Russia.
Messi: We deserved to qualify
The 30-year-old admitted after last night’s win that it would have been “crazy” had Argentina failed to qualify.
"There was always the fear of coming here to play,” Messi said, per the Mail. “Luckily, we could react and we managed to play well.
"It would have been crazy not to be in the World Cup. The group deserved to qualify."
Cristiano Ronaldo fan's tweet days before the hat-trick
While everyone is celebrating Messi’s brilliance, there are some who were expecting him to fail.
That includes a Cristiano Ronaldo fan who doubted Messi could do what the Real Madrid superstar did in 2013.
Ronaldo sent Portugal to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with a blistering hat-trick against Sweden.
And ‘Donnytheprince’, whose name on Twitter reads ‘messi hater’, simply didn’t envision Messi repeating Ronaldo’s heroics from four years ago.
“Can Messi score an away hat trick vs Ecuador and qualify Argentina to the World Cup like Ronaldo did vs Sweden? Nahhhhhh,” Donnytheprince wrote, alongside a gif of Ronaldo celebrating one of his goals against the Swedes.
The tweet has now been retweeted 2,300 times. The fact that Donnytheprince has pinned the tweet shows he’s actually enjoying the ridicule that’s coming his way.
It was a case of ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ for Messi last night.
There are no more words to describe his brilliance. Argentina needed him to pull them out of a deep, deep hole, and that’s precisely what he did.
With Portugal also qualifying for the World Cup, it’ll be great to see Messi and Ronaldo on the world’s biggest stage once again.