‘Messi magic’ seals Argentina’s 2018 World Cup spot

When it really mattered and when the pressure was most intense, Lionel Messi delivered for Argentina.

On the brink of being eliminated from World Cup qualifying for the first time in almost five decades, Messi scored all three goals in Argentina’s comeback 3-1 victory at Ecuador overcoming the thin air in the Andes.

“It would’ve been crazy if Argentina didn’t play the World Cup,” said Messi, adding that the team “will change, will grow a lot, will be stronger after this.”

But there’s still work to do for Argentina, the two-time champions, who lost the final three years ago to Germany 1-0. Messi has yet to hoist a major trophy for his country of birth, a contrast to the laurels he’s brought Barcelona.

He’ll turn 31 during the World Cup in Russia, so this may be his last chance.

“Messi does not owe Argentina a World Cup, but rather football owes him a World Cup,” Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli said.

(Agencies)

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