Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia qualify for World Cup

Needing a win against the rival South American side, Argentina now leads Ecuador 3-1, thanks to a hat trick from who else but Messi. Last week's 1-1 draw in Malaysia, Syria's "home" for the qualifiers, means a goalless stalemate at Sydney's Olympic Stadium would be enough to keep alive Australia's hopes of a fourth straight World Cup finals appearance.

But, the 30-year-old Barcelona superstar produced a stunning performance to help his national side win the all-important match against an already eliminated Ecuador. And it was only 38 seconds into the match.

The second half was more subdued as Argentina protected their priceless advantage, though Messi was still front and centre as he completed his three-goal haul in handsome fashion.

But Argentina came roaring back 15 minutes later through the main man - Messi.

Messi completed his hat-trick on the hour mark with an exquisite chip on the hour mark to seal his spot in Russian Federation next year.

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Argentina had got off to a disastrous start, conceding a goal in the opening minute as Ecuador took full advantage of hesitancy in the visiting side's defensive ranks. The table is large and there are a lot of numbers, some of them bigger than 3, so we're here to simplify it for you. The Albiceleste captain is his side's leading scorer in the campaign with four goals, though he has failed to find the back of the net since the win over Chile on Matchday 13.

Messi's double-blast galvanised Argentina, who gradually grew in confidence through the remainder of the half, carefully maintaining possession to frustrate Ecuador's hopes of regaining the initiative. They join Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia. Yet if they win in Quito, they will be guaranteed at least a play-off against New Zealand to reach Russian Federation. Enter Brazil. If the top-of-the-table Sele├žao beat third-place Chile in Brazil, Argentina could qualify over the Chileans on goal difference, allowing them to take on New Zealand in the inter-confederation playoff for a spot in Russian Federation 2018. Brazil have already qualified for Russian Federation on 38 points, while Uruguay (28) need just a draw from their final game against Bolivia to advance. The first from Paulinho, the second from Jesus.

Peru did well to play out a 1-1 draw with Colombia in Lima. Rodriguez scored for Colombia.

ElsewhereAs for the rest, no one has a clearer path to Russian Federation than Uruguay, who lie second on 28 points.


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