In front of a crowd of 80,000 fans, Messi, who led the Tango to the World Cup title for the third time in its history last year in Qatar, scored the winning goal in the 78th minute, from a free kick in a wonderful way.
Messi said after the match: “Ecuador showed that they have very good players, that they are physically strong and clear about what they are doing,” adding: “We know that in every match we have to do our best to achieve that, but we showed that this group will not rest after what it has achieved.” It is historic and unusual.”
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner continued, saying: “We have to realize that we enjoyed everything very much, but what we did is over, and we have to look forward.”
Messi did not confirm his continuation with the national team until the 2026 World Cup. But he proved once again that he is the lifeblood of his team through his decisive goal that gave the three points to coach Luis Scaloni’s squad.
Lautaro Martinez was fouled in a sensitive area a few meters outside the penalty area in the 78th minute, and the American Inter Miami player was able to execute in a perfect manner after his ball from a free kick hit the post and then landed inside the goal.
With this goal, Messi equaled the record of his former Barcelona teammate, the Spanish Uruguayan Luis Suarezas the all-time top scorer in South American qualifiers, with 29 goals.
The “Albiceleste” dominated possession against the defensively positioned Ecuador, as their offensive efforts were limited to counterattacks.
Argentina will play its second match in Bolivia next Tuesday, and in two other matches, Colombia defeated its host Venezuela 1-0, while Peru tied 0-0 against its host Paraguay.
Two matches in today’s program
Two matches will be held on Friday, with Uruguay playing Chile in Montevideo, while five-time World Cup winner Brazil begins its campaign by hosting Bolivia in Belem.
And you enter Brazil The qualifiers are in a state of anticipation, with a new coach in Fernando Diniz taking over from his predecessor Tite following the Seleção’s World Cup quarter-final exit to Croatia last year.
Brazil’s preparations for the qualifiers witnessed the exclusion of Manchester United’s English winger Anthony after revelations of an assault on his ex-girlfriend. Anthony, who denied the allegations, was replaced by Arsenal striker Gabriel Jesus.