Argentinian superstar, Lionel Messi found the back of the net thrice to ensure his country came from behind to win in Ecuador early Wednesday to qualify for Russia 2018.
With the 3-1 victory, Argentina successfully avoided missing a World Cup finals for the first time since 1970.
The runners up of the 2014 edition began the game sixth in the group and needing a top-four place to qualify automatically. They made a terrible start in Quito, losing a goal inside 38 seconds.
Messi then equalised after 12 minutes when he linked up Angel di Maria and stabbed home. He netted his second of the night on 20 minutes with a powerful strike from the edge of the area before scoring a fine solo goal in the 62nd minute.
The Barcelona legend and five-time world player of the year was praised by his coach, Jorge Sampaoli after his incredible display saw Argentina clinch a top-four spot in the South American qualifying table.
“Luckily the nationality of the best player in the world is Argentinian,” said Sampaoli.
“We must be sure everything does not depend on Leo [Messi] but today he brought his great ability.
“I told the group: Messi did not owe the World Cup to Argentina, but football owed the World Cup to Messi. We should help him be in the World Cup.”
As its stands, Argentina joins Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay to qualify from their continent.
Germany, Belgium, Costa Rica, England, Egypt, France, Iceland, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Korea, Spain and Uruguay are also guaranteed spots in the global showpiece next summer.
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