Messi hat-trick sends Argentina to World Cup

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi scored his first hat-trick in World Cup qualifying matches

Lionel Messi scored a superb hat-trick as Argentina came from behind to win away in Ecuador and qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Brazil had already qualified and Luis Suarez scored twice as Uruguay beat Bolivia 4-2 to qualify, with Colombia also advancing with a 1-1 draw in Peru.

Peru finished fifth in South American qualifying and will now meet New Zealand in a two-legged play-off.

But Alexis Sanchez and Chile are out after losing 3-0 away in Brazil.

Argentina began the day in sixth position and in danger of not qualifying for a World Cup for the first time since 1970.

They made a terrible start in the high-altitude location of Quito and the hosts went ahead after 38 seconds through Romario Ibarra’s goal – the quickest goal Argentina had ever conceded in a World Cup qualifier.

However, Argentina, World Cup runners-up in Brazil in 2014, fought back with Messi in stunning form.

The five-time world player of the year equalised after 12 minutes when he linked up with ex-Manchester United midfielder Angel di Maria and stabbed home.

His second goal came eight minutes later with a powerful strike from the edge of the area before a fine solo goal in the second half sealed the victory.

Disaster for Chile

Alexis Sanchez<!–

Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez will not be playing in the 2018 World Cup

Chile, who have won the Copa America in its last two tournaments, were aiming to qualify for their third successive World Cup after reaching the last 16 in 2010 and 2014.

They began the final round of matches in third place, but fell behind to two Brazil goals in three second-half minutes from Paulinho and Gabriel Jesus.

With Peru scoring a late equaliser against Colombia, Chile needed to score to be in the play-offs. In injury-time, Chile attacked with all of their players, including goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, in the Brazil half.

However, the attack broke down, Brazil launched the ball forward and Jesus walked the ball into the net for his second with Manchester City team-mate Bravo stranded to confirm Chile’s elimination.

Live Text

Match ends, Ecuador 1, Argentina 3.

Second Half ends, Ecuador 1, Argentina 3.

Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Cristian Ramírez.

Foul by Cristian Ramírez (Ecuador).

Leandro Paredes (Argentina) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Máximo Banguera.

Attempt saved. Mauro Icardi (Argentina) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Enzo Pérez with a through ball.

Hand ball by Jonny Uchuari (Ecuador).

Attempt missed. Michael Estrada (Ecuador) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Pedro Velasco with a cross.

Attempt missed. Renato Ibarra (Ecuador) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left following a set piece situation.

Substitution, Argentina. Federico Fazio replaces Eduardo Salvio.

Enner Valencia (Ecuador) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Lucas Biglia (Argentina).

Enner Valencia (Ecuador) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Lionel Messi (Argentina).

Javier Mascherano (Argentina) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Jonny Uchuari (Ecuador) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Javier Mascherano (Argentina).

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Substitution, Argentina. Leandro Paredes replaces Ángel Di María.

Delay in match Ángel Di María (Argentina) because of an injury.

Foul by Romario Ibarra (Ecuador).

Lionel Messi (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Renato Ibarra (Ecuador).

Marcos Acuña (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Michael Estrada (Ecuador) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Cristian Ramírez with a cross.

Substitution, Ecuador. Jonny Uchuari replaces Jefferson Intriago.

Substitution, Argentina. Mauro Icardi replaces Darío Benedetto.

Michael Estrada (Ecuador) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Michael Estrada (Ecuador).

Gabriel Mercado (Argentina) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Corner, Ecuador. Conceded by Eduardo Salvio.

Romario Ibarra (Ecuador) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Lucas Biglia (Argentina).

Attempt blocked. Ángel Di María (Argentina) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Darío Benedetto.

Foul by Jefferson Intriago (Ecuador).

Lionel Messi (Argentina) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Attempt missed. Pedro Velasco (Ecuador) right footed shot from more than 35 yards is too high.

Attempt blocked. Enner Valencia (Ecuador) right footed shot from more than 35 yards is blocked. Assisted by Cristian Ramírez.

Attempt missed. Ángel Di María (Argentina) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right following a corner.

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