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12 October 2017, 12:41 | Nina Perez
The victory lifted Argentina to third on the South American qualifying standings from sixth, with the top four teams automatically qualifying for 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation. It is also worth noting that the trio of goals now serve as Messi's first hat trick in World Cup qualifying play.
"There was always the fear of coming here to play", Messi said, per the Mail.
Ecuador had a solid run in this CONMEBOL region, now eighth with 20 points but its World Cup aspirations are already over.
Roger Gonzalez of CBS Sports broke down the scenarios, noting the top four teams in CONMEBOL would automatically qualify for Russian Federation 2018 with the fifth-place team set to play New Zealand in a playoff. We have some good young players come up. Messi scored seven, and no other player added more than two goals. "The group deserved to qualify".
Messi, who scored a hat-trick against Ecuador, and his team overcame their own ghosts, woke up from their nightmare and averted an elimination that would without a doubt have been a national disaster for football-crazy Argentina.
"Messi does not owe Argentina a World Cup, football owes Messi a World Cup". As a outcome of that pressure we are stronger now, this qualification will make us stronger to face the future.
"We must analyse everything that has happened so far and improve", he said.
"There's enough there. There's no excuses for us not qualifying for the World Cup".
There were songs, some with rude references to reporters who had questioned the players, and Messi ended his self-imposed media ban and addressed Argentinian reporters for the first time in nearly a year. "Nahhhhhh", Donnytheprince wrote, alongside a gif of Ronaldo celebrating one of his goals against the Swedes. Messi is the only player in history to win five FIFA Ballon d'Or awards and his entry into the FIFA 2018 World Cup is bound to make the game all the more fun and entertaining.
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