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Watch: Messi Bags A Hat-Trick To Rescue Argentina From World Cup Nightmare

Watch: Messi Bags A Hat-Trick To Rescue Argentina From World Cup Nightmare
By Mikey Traynor
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With worldwide media focus on the struggles of Argentina to successfully navigate the intensely competitive CONEMBOL qualifiers, all eyes were on Lionel Messi on Tuesday night as it was up to him to save his nation from the agony of missing out on a World Cup - a fate they have not suffered since 1970.

The team selections have been odd, the tactics have been rather wild, but Argentina knew that if Brazil could do them a massive favour and beat Chile at home, they could just get over the line with a victory over Ecuador.

And it looked like it all went tits up inside one minute.

An early goal for Ecuador sent the home crowd into raptures, but Messi was not to be denied. He answered back within 15 minutes and would go on to decide the game with two more goals making for a sublime hat-trick. Brazil did their part with a 3-0 win, and Messi delivered in emphatic fashion.

The equaliser was a well-worked move with Angel Di Maria:

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Then Messi but his team in front by pouncing on a mistake and thumping one into the roof of the net:

And he saved the best for last as he floated a delightful curler over the Ecuador keeper:

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Genius.

Having started the night in 6th, Argentina finished 3rd and booked their place in Russia along with Brazil, Colombia, and Uruguay, with Peru heading for a playoff next month, and Chile the ones to miss out.

Messi broke the CONEMBOL goalscoring record for his troubles, and can now look forward to what will likely be his last crack at winning a World Cup. Considering on Monday it was in the balance whether or not either of Messi or Ronaldo were going to be at the 2018 World Cup, football fans should breathe a sigh of relief that the two best players in the game will be there.

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Hopefully Wes Hoolahan can make it three out of three.

[via r/soccer]

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