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Argentina's Lionel Messi throws his jersey to the crowd as he celebrates defeating Ecuador Credit: A second-half goal from Paolo Guerrero kept Peru in with a chance of a first World Cup appearance since when his brilliant free kick in Lima cancelled out Colombia's opener from James Rodriguez. Peru, unbeaten in their last six qualifiers under Argentina manager Ricardo Gareca, failed to secure the win that would have ensured automatic qualification but have the consolation of a home-and-away playoff against Oceania champions New Zealand.
We know that it is difficult but we know that it is up to us. AFP Five-times champions Brazil had already qualified before their game against Chile in Sao Paulo but a home victory saw the visitors drop from third to sixth in the standings, failing to even qualify for the inter-continental playoff.
Three second-half goals, one from Paulinho and two from Gabriel Jesus, enabled the group leaders to extend their unbeaten run in the group to 17 games. The two-time world champions and runners-up face missing out on the tournament for the first time since ahead of their final qualifying game in Ecuador. Argentina currently sit sixth in the team South American section, with only the top four countries qualifying for Russia automatically and the fifth-placed side facing a play-off against New Zealand.
However, such is the compact nature of the standings that six nations go into the final round of fixtures still boasting a chance of joining already-qualified Brazil in securing a top-four berth. Among them are Argentina, who will guarantee their place in next year's finals if they beat already-eliminated Ecuador and other results go their way.
Icardi 6 , Fazio 6 Man of the match: Lionel Messi Elsewhere, Peru's draw against Colombia was enough to secure them a play-off with New Zealand for the final spot, which meant Chile were eliminated after they lost in Brazil. Argentina, who have been at every World Cup finals since and twice won the tournament, knew anything other than victory would have meant elimination. It seemed inconceivable that one of football's superpowers would not make it to the World Cup - but that looked a serious possibility when Ecuador took a shock lead inside 40 seconds.
Antonio Valencia and Jorge Celico were both suspended for Ecuador while Enner Valencia was only fit enough for the bench. Romario Ibarra ploughed his way through a nervy Argentina back-line and reversed a fine finish beyond Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero. Ecuador's Romario Ibarra covered celebrates Argentina, who had not scored in open play for minutes, needed inspiration and it came from a familiar source.
Messi and Angel di Maria teamed up to devastating effect. Messi played a clever one-two with the winger before sweeping home from close range with 12 minutes on the clock. Messi's hat-trick was his 44th in his career His influence on the game was growing by the minute and soon he'd single-handedly dragged his country back into World Cup contention with another sublime finish.
Ecuador squandered possession, which gave Messi the invitation to pounce.
Ecuador v Argentina, South American Championship Women U20 2018 - Soccer, South America