Messi Secures Argentina; Chile goes home.
“Thank God, we fulfilled our objective” were Argentinian Superstar Lionel Messi’s words as his heroics helped Argentina qualify for the next year’s 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The win was desperately needed and it came against Ecuador. The drubbing looked 3-1 with Messi’s hat-trick being the highlight of the game. Argentina before sealing their spot for the big event was placed sixth on the table. Furthermore, the hopes of qualifying were totally in jeopardy but Messi came to the rescue and set up the game. The situation was dicey as only top four were to progress and the fifth would go to play an intercontinental playoff against New Zealand.
The win propelled Argentina to number 3 spot. Along with the South American giants, Uruguay and Colombia also secured spots. As a result, Peru heads to next month’s playoff at the expense of Chile, while Brazil is already qualified.
As the game kicked off, Ecuador immediately put back Argentina scoring in the opening minute. Romario Ibarra scored the opening, going past Sergio Romero. Defender Javier Mascherano tried to head away a forward, but it fell in the path of Ibarra. The goal came as the second fastest in the history of WC Qualifiers at just 38 seconds into the game.
Argentina bounced back 11 minutes later. Messi pushed forward and laid the ball off to his left to Angel Di Maria. Di Maria returned the pass for the Barcelona star to roll in the equalizer. Seven minutes later, Messi struck again as Di Maria passed the ball forward to him but was intercepted. Hence, Messy himself took up the challenge and took the ball from the defender, ran forward and sent it straight into the top corner.
Messi struck again with just past an hour into the game to complete his hat-trick in the 62nd minute. This was the best of the night as he scooped it in beyond the keeper’s reach after receiving the ball around 40 yards back.
Colombia too makes it as Peru gets a lifeline.
Colombia’s team made it to the next round with a 1-1 draw against Peru. Consequently, Peru had to settle for a playoff. James Rodriguez put Colombia in front in the 56th minute, and at that point, Peru was facing elimination, but Jose Paolo Guerrero stepped up to score a free kick to equalize and push his team into fifth place. Peru’s gain was Chile’s loss as their World Cup dreams were shattered after 3-0 loss in Brazil.
Brazil took the lead in the 55th minute after going through a goal-less first half. Dani Alve’s long free kick helped Paulinho to step up and hit a rebound. The second of the three came from Gabriel Jesus who received a nicely placed one from Neymar and hit into an empty net. Manchester City striker Gabriel added a third in stoppage time to seal Chile’s fate.