Posted on Wed 11 Oct 2017, 07:03 AM

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 team had a shaky qualification journey, raising the fears that Argentina with the best footballer in the game, may not be at the biggest football tournament in the world.

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 and Colombia. Uruguay defeated Bolivia 4-2, Argentina won 3-1, and Colombia drew 1-1 with Peru.

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



Messi, the world best. Very humble and unassuming.

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