Argentina's Lionel Messi (C) celebrates after defeating Ecuador and qualifying to the 2018 World Cup football tournament, in Quito, on October 10, 2017

Stunning Messi Hat-Trick Drives Football Fans Crazy and Argentina to World Cup

© AFP 2018 / Juan Ruiz
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Soccer fans from Argentina were jubilant following their win but there was heartbreak for Ecuador, after Lionel Messi put three goals past them, driving his team to next year's World Cup finals in Russia.

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.

​His performance reignited a perennial debate about who is the better footballer, the Barcelona player or his Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

​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."

​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

​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.

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World Cup 2018, soccer, football, Lionel Messi, South America, Ecuador, Argentina
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