From The Brink: Peerless Lionel Messi Hat-Trick Drags Argentina To World Cup As Chile Miss Out On Goal Difference (Photos & Video)

Chris Wright

11th, October 2017


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Timed for maximum dramatic impact, Lionel Messi produced an inspirational performance in Argentina’s final World Cup qualifier to drag his nation from the brink of elimination and into the 2018 finals in Russia.

The Albiceleste began the day in sixth place, but a 3-1, last-gasp, Messi-powered victory over Ecuador saw them hurtle up into third, hence securing themselves an automatic qualification spot at the death.

Things looked bleak when Romario Ibarra scored for La Tricolor with just 38 seconds on the clock, but it took Messi just ten minutes to level things up by steaming into the area and poking a ball into through the goalkeeper’s legs…

Ten minutes on, Messi had Argentina in front, again linking with Angel Di Maria before walloping an unstoppable shot into the top corner from just inside the box…

He then went on to complete his own personal rout on the hour mark, collecting a loose ball, gliding to the edge of the box as per usual and sending an arching lob over the ‘keeper and into the Ecuadorian net…

So that’s that. All it took was Messi knocking the whole ‘trying to be a team player’ thing on the head, and instead focusing solely on being absolutely magical on the international stage too.

It’s little wonder he was leading the celebrations in the dressing room afterwards…

Mas Unidos que nunca !!!!!

A post shared by Javier Mascherano (@mascherano14) on

So, despite looking almost certain to miss out, Argentina stumble headlong into qualifying for Russia 2018 at the expense of Chile who, despite starting the day in third, lost 3-0 against Brazil in their final outing to finish sixth on goal difference.

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That was due to Peru’s goal in their 1-1 draw against Colombia, a fateful strike that helped keep them in the fifth-place play-off spot above Chile by the narrowest of margins…

Image: ESPN FC