World Cup Qualifiers : Lionel Messi hat-trick guides Argentina into World Cup; Chile bow out

World Cup Qualifiers : Lionel Messi hat-trick guides Argentina into World Cup; Chile bow out

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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

Argentina were in search of a desperate victory to avoid elimination from the World Cup 2018 race, and their all their worst fears would have come to life when Ecuador forward Romario Ibarra put the ball past Sergio Romero to score the second-fastest goal in the qualifying campaign, in only 35 seconds.

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

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