Messi hat-trick saves Argentina to secure World Cup 2018 spot


 (from Reuters video)

QUITO, ECUADOR (Reuters) — Argentina secured their place in the 2018 World Cup in Russia after an incredible Lionel Messi hat-trick to calm fears in the soccer-mad nation and ensure the South American giants participated in next year’s tournament.

Argentina, finalists three years ago but outside the qualifying spots going into their match against Ecuador, went behind after just 37 seconds through Romario Ibarra’s strike, but an inspired Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick to guarantee his side one of the three automatic qualifying spots still up for grabs.

In other games, already qualified Brazil beat Chile 3-0 to end Chilean hopes while Uruguay, who beat Bolivia, and Colombia, who drew away to Peru, joined Argentina as automatic qualifiers for the World Cup.

Peru will face New Zealand in an inter-continental play-off to see which side progresses.