Association Football (Soccer) fans are singing the praises of football superstar Lionel Messi after he drove his team to the World Cup finals in Russia with a hat-trick in Tuesday's qualifying game in Quito, Ecuador.
Ecuador were first to open the scoring after just 38 seconds through winger Renato Ibarro, but Barcelona's Messi led an inspired fight back.
When you doubt Lionel Messi 😂 pic.twitter.com/m0UfdC4zbR— Football Banter (@FbBanterPage) 11 октября 2017 г.
His performance reignited a perennial debate about who is the better footballer, the Barcelona player or his Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
CR7 is not better than Messi, only a fool will tell u that.— knighty (@LeonKnight_) 11 октября 2017 г.
To End The Messi vs Ronaldo debate, As a manager which would you rather have in your team?— Enekem 💎 (@EnekemGreg) 11 октября 2017 г.
RT for Messi
Like For Ronaldo pic.twitter.com/g0pbH3UfdN
Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli was in no doubt, describing his talisman as the world's best footballer.
"Luckily the nationality of the best player in the world is Argentinian," Sampaoli said.
"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."
Lionel Messi was directly involved in 47.4% of Argentina's 19 World Cup qualifying goals.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) 11 октября 2017 г.
He played 10 out of 18 games. pic.twitter.com/zhTIIypbxN
Messi bagged his 44th career hat-trick to send Argentina to 2018 World Cup.— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) 11 октября 2017 г.
It's Lionel Messi's world & we're all living in it. 🐐 pic.twitter.com/1vdzyZqtjD
Messi carrying Argentina to World Cup! 😂 pic.twitter.com/6qK4MPlOKY— Holy Grail ® ™ (@ODMendel) 11 октября 2017 г.
Messi is no longer in the debate for best footballer of all time, he's now fighting for his status as the greatest sportsman ever.— ~ (@UltraAutistic) 11 октября 2017 г.
Messi's super performance ensured that Argentina qualified automatically despite a slow start to their qualifying campaign. Their previous coach Edgardo Bauza was fired in April when their team was in fifth place.
The South American qualifying competition has ended with Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay also assured of playing in Russia, while Peru must win a play-off game against New Zealand.
In the neighboring Concacaf qualifying group, USA fans were disappointed after their team failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
Not really fair that we have to play Trinidad AND Tobago at the same time— BUM CHILLIPS (@edsbs) 11 октября 2017 г.
Coud Alabama beat the USMNT— PFTCommenter (@PFTCommenter) 11 октября 2017 г.
They suffered a 2:1 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago, who nevertheless also failed to qualify. Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama are sure to be at the tournament next year, while Honduras faces a play-off against Australia.