Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick when his team needed it the most to help Argentina secure a 3-1 win over Ecuador and a spot in the 2018 World Cup in Russia next summer. Colombia, too, qualified for next year's World Cup, while Chile's hopes were shattered after a 3-0 loss to Brazil.
Ecuador 1 - 3 Argentina
However, Argentina drew level in the 11th minute when Lionel Messi pushed forward and laid the ball off to his left to Angel Di Maria, who returned the pass for the Barcelona star who levelled the score. After seven minutes, Messi put Argentina in from when he intercepted Diaria's pass and sent the ball into the top corner to put his team ahead in the match. In the 62nd minute of the game, Messi completed his hat-trick as after receiving the ball within 40 yards from goal, he carried the ball to the top of the box and scooped the ball beyond the keeper's reach and into the net.
While the victory helped Argentina seal a place at the 2018 World Cup, Messi also became the all-time leading scorer in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers, though he was quickly joined by Luis Suarez.
Brazil 3 - 0 Chile
The first half of the game went goalless, but Brazil started to play an attacking brand of game in the second half and took a lead in the 55th minute. Dani Alves' long free-kick was warded off by Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, but Paulinho tapped in the rebound to give Brazil a 1-0 lead.
The lead was doubled two minutes later when Philippe Coutinho played a long pass forward to Neymar, who passed across for Gabriel Jesus to score into an empty net. The Manchester City striker added a third in stoppage time and ended Chille's hopes of playing in the World Cup.
Other Results :
France 2 - 1 Belarus
Luxembourg 1 - 1 Bulgaria
Netherlands 2 - 0 Sweden
Hungary 1 - 0 Faroe Islands
Latvia 4 - 0 Andorra
Portugal 2 - 0 Switzerland
Belgium 4 - 0 Cyprus
Estonia 1 - 2 Bosnia-Herzegovina
Greece 4 - 0 Gibraltar
Paraguay 0 - 1 Venezuela
Uruguay 4 - 2 Bolivia
Bale attempted 2.6 shots per game this SLL, while Benzema has attempted 2 shots.
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