Lionel Messi hat-trick fires Argentina into FIFA World Cup 2018

Lionel Messi's hat-trick led Argentina towards a historic victory against Ecuador by 3-1, after the home side took a 1-0 lead in the first minute.

By: AP | Published:October 11, 2017 7:21 am
lionel messi, argentina world cup 2018, messi hat trick, world cup 2018 russia, lionel messi goals, messi argentina goals, messi world cup goals, messi world cup hat trick, argentina vs ecuador, argentina vs ecuador score, argentina vs ecuador result, footall news, sports news Players of Argentina celebrate after Argentina’s Lionel Messi scored his third goal against Ecuador during their 2018 World Cup qualifying soccer match at the Atahualpa Olympic Stadium in Quito, Ecuador, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Lionel Messi’s three goals lifted Argentina into the World Cup on the last day of South American qualifying, keeping the Albiceleste from missing out for the first time since 1970. The two-time champions — and losing finalists three years ago in Brazil — rode Messi’s hat trick in the thin air of the Andes to defeat Ecuador 3-1, after the home side took a 1-0 lead in the first minute.

The top four teams in South America get automatic berths to Russia. Brazil has 41 points and clinched months ago. The other three advancing Tuesday went in this order: Uruguay (31), Argentina (28) and Colombia (27). Uruguay defeated Bolivia 4-2, Argentina won 3-1, and Colombia drew 1-1 with Peru.

Peru (26) placed fifth after its draw. The fifth-place team in South America qualifies for a playoff next month with Oceania representative New Zealand.

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