Lionel Messi produced a masterclass when his Argentina team needed it the most to aid their qualification for next year’s summer World Cup in Russia.
The 2-time champions were in danger of missing out of the World Cup after they started the day in 6th position and outside the qualification places. Their situation went from bad to worse after 40 seconds when the home side took the lead through Renato Ibarra.
That early setback galvanised ‘Captain Fantastic’ Messi and Argentina with the Barcelona superstar getting a quick first half brace before he completed his hattrick in the second half with a sumptuous strike to send his country to Russia. The 3-1 away win over Ecuador was enough to take Jorge Sampaoli’s side three spots up to 3rd behind Brazil and Uruguay.
COPA America champions Chile missed out on World Cup qualification after they suffered a damaging 3-0 defeat to hosts Brazil through goals from Paulinho and Manchester City star Gabriel Jesus (2). The Chileans dropped from 3rd to 6th thereby missing out on a playoff spot during to their inferior goal difference to 5th-placed Peru.
Matchday 18 Results:
Ecuador 1-3 Argentina
Brazil 3-0 Chile
Uruguay 4-2 Bolivia
Paraguay 0-1 Venezuela
Peru 1-1 Colombia
- Brazil 41 points (Qualified)
- Uruguay 31 points (Qualified)
- Argentina 28 points (Qualified)
- Colombia 27 points (Qualified)
- Peru 26 points (Playoffs)
- Chile 26 points
- Paraguay 24 points
- Ecuador 20 points
- Bolivia 14 points
- Venezuela 12 points