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Ecuador 1-3 Argentina: World Cup 2018 qualifier – as it happened

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Ecuador 1-3 Argentina: World Cup 2018 qualifier – as it happened” was written by Rob Smyth, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 11th October 2017 01.29 UTC

That was quite a night of hot Conmebol action. Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia have qualified for the World Cup, while Peru will meet New Zealand in a two-legged play-off. If they win they will reach the World Cup for the first time since 1982. Oh, and Lionel Messi is a genius, but you knew that already. Thanks for your company, night.

The final scores

  • Brazil 3-0 Chile
  • Ecuador 1-3 Argentina
  • Paraguay 0-1 Venezuela
  • Peru 1-1 Colombia
  • Uruguay 4-2 Bolivia

Updated

Full time: Ecuador 1-3 Argentina

It’s all over in Quito. Lionel Messi scored a superb hat-trick to ensure he will get one last crack at winning the World Cup next summer.

There isn’t much scope for late drama now. Peru are going into a play-off against New Zealand, and Argentina and Colombia will qualify automatically. Paraguay must be desperately disappointed – a win at home to Venezuela would have put them into the play-off.

Updated

Brazil 3-0 Chile Gabriel Jesus gets his second, with Claudio Bravo out of his goal after going up for a corner, and Chile’s last hope has gone.

There are two minutes of normal time remaining in Sao Paulo, and Chile are on the brink of elimination. Roberto Firmino should have finished them off just then, but his shot was superbly saved by Claudio Bravo.

The latest scores

  • Brazil 2-0 Chile
  • Ecuador 1-3 Argentina
  • Paraguay 0-1 Venezuela
  • Peru 1-1 Colombia
  • Uruguay 4-2 Bolivia

Updated

Venezuela have taken a surprise lead in Paraguay, which surely ends Paraguay’s chances of qualifying. So now it’s between Peru and Chile for the play-off place. Chile need one goal, for them or Colombia.

81 min Argentina are cruising now. Bolivia have pulled one back in Bolivia. Chile are 2-0 down in Brazil but I think – I think, I haven’t a clue – a 2-1 defeat would put them into the play-offs as things stand.

Peru have scored! It’s Peru 1-1 Colombia. That means Chile will miss out if it stays like this.

79 min The substitute Estrada misses a decent chance for Ecuador, heading Ramirez’s cross over the bar.

Updated

78 min A goal for either Paraguay or Peru would lift them above Chile into the play-off place. Like the very best spandex, it’s exquisitely tight.

Make that Uruguay 4-1 Bolivia.

The latest scores

  • Brazil 2-0 Chile
  • Ecuador 1-3 Argentina
  • Paraguay 0-0 Venezuela
  • Peru 0-1 Colombia
  • Uruguay 3-1 Bolivia

76 min Mauro Icardi comes to replace Benedetto.

74 min The tireless left-back Ramirez wins a corner for Ecuador and decides to take it himself. It’s headed away at the near post and Di Maria, who has been outstanding, leads another Argentina break.

73 min Ecuador’s race is run. They know it, and Argentina know it.

71 min Paraguay are still drawing 0-0 at home to Venezuela. If they win that game they will almost certainly leapfrog Peru and Chile into fifth place.

Updated

68 min That third Messi goal was entirely ridiculous. He was on the edge of area, off balance because a defender was trying to sit on him, and he still managed to chip a keeper who was only a few yards off his line. It was genius.

66 min It looks like Argentina will qualify automatically, unless Ecuador score twice or Chile score thrice in Brazil.

The latest scores

  • Brazil 2-0 Chile
  • Ecuador 1-3 Argentina
  • Paraguay 0-0 Venezuela
  • Peru 0-1 Colombia
  • Uruguay 3-1 Bolivia

GOAL! Ecuador 1-3 Argentina (Messi 62)

There goes the fear, let it go. Argentina are going to the World Cup thanks to Lionel Messi, who has completed a famous hat-trick with a glorious chip! A loose ball came to him 35 yards out and he made straight for goal. Benedetto made a fine off-the-ball run, and Messi used him by not using him before darting to the left and flipping the ball majestically over Banguera.

Updated

Uruguay lead Bolivia 3-1. They are going to finish second in the group.

61 min Biglia is booked for a cynical foul on the marauding Renato Ibarra.

Updated

60 min Ecuador have done most of the attacking in this half. Argentina are playing a dangerous game, though at the moment they have a bit of breathing space because of the other scores.

The latest scores

  • Brazil 2-0 Chile
  • Ecuador 1-2 Argentina
  • Paraguay 0-0 Venezuela
  • Peru 0-1 Colombia
  • Uruguay 2-1 Bolivia

Colombia have taken the lead in Peru, which pushes Chile back up to fifth, Colombia to third and Argentina to fourth. I think.

Updated

58 min Since you asked nicely, Paulinho and Gabriel Jesus scored for Brazil.

Updated

Brazil now lead 2-0, which pushes Chile down to sixth place. My head hurts and there’s still half an hour to go. The upshot is that, at the moment, a draw is enough for Argentina to stay alive.

As things stand Peru and Chile are level on points, goal difference and goals scored. But Chile have the better head-to-head record so they would, I think, take fifth place.

Brazil have taken the lead against Chile, which means… I’ll let you know what that means.

53 min Ecuador are putting Argentina under a lot of pressure at the moment. It does feel like Argentina need a third goal if they are to win this game, maybe even a fourth.

51 min At the moment Argentina are third in the group, but an Ecuador equaliser would push them down to sixth. Acuna is booked for a foul on Intriago.

50 min Mercado is lucky not to be booked for flattening Romario Ibarra.

48 min The excellent Di Maria wins an early corner for Argentina. It comes to nothing.

46 min Peep peep! After taking an age to emerge from the dressing-room, Argentina begin the second half.

The half-time scores

  • Brazil 0-0 Chile
  • Ecuador 1-2 Argentina
  • Paraguay 0-0 Venezuela
  • Peru 0-0 Colombia
  • Uruguay 2-1 Bolivia

As it stands, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile will qualify, with Colombia going into a play-off against New Zealand.

Martin Caceres and Edinson Cavani have scored to put Uruguay 2-1 up at home to Bolivia. They will be going to Russia next year.

Half-time: Ecuador 1-2 Argentina

That was pretty lively. Romario Ibarra gave Ecuador the lead after 40 seconds; then Lionel Messi gave Argentina the lead with two fine goals. See you in 10 minutes for the second half.

43 min I know it’s human nature to ease off when you take the lead, but Argentina were rampant when Messi put them 2-1 up. It could be 4-1 by now. Instead they sat back and that has allowed Ecuador back into the match. At the moment they look likelier to score the next goal.

Updated

41 min An early substitution for Ecuador: Enner Valencia replaces Cevallos, which suggests a switch to dear old 4-4-2.

39 min This game has been on the manic side of frenetic. Ecuador’s intent has been admirable given they have nothing to play for, even if some of their play has been a little rough around the edges.

38 min “Could Ronaldo score two goals, right on cue, for Argentina?” asks Gary Naylor. “Of course he couldn’t. He’s Portuguese.”

HONK!

36 min As things stand, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile will qualify automatically, with Colombia going into a play-off against New Zealand.

35 min Romario Ibarra wins another corner for Ecuador in this crazily open game. Romero ends up palming the ball behind for another corner, which is eventually cleared. Both sides are fifty shades of shambles in defence.

32 min Messi plays a delicious return pass through to Di Maria, whose close-range shot is excellently blocked by Banguera. Messi and Di Maria have been almost telepathic tonight.

Updated

30 min Argentina have been far too defensive since going ahead, which has allowed Ecuador back into the match. If they concentrate on attacking they could have the game wrapped up by half-time.

29 min This match is getting very niggly. Enzo Perez seems to over the ball on Intriago, though the referee gives just a free-kick.

Bolivia have taken the lead in Uruguay. That’s unlikely to have any impact on the group, however, as Uruguay already have nine toes in Russia.

27 min Cevallos’s free-kick is headed behind for an Ecuador corner. Nothing comes of it, except a blast of heat towards the referee from Aimar when he is penalised for a challenge on Benedetto.

The latest scores

  • · Brazil 0-0 Chile
  • · Ecuador 1-2 Argentina
  • · Paraguay 0-0 Venezuela
  • · Peru 0-0 Colombia
  • · Uruguay 0-0 Bolivia

23 min Messi and Di Maria have been so good in the first quarter of the match. In a way it highlights the absurdity of Argentina being in such a precarious position, but they won’t care about that so long as they get through. At the moment that looks likely as they are in complete control.

GOAL! Ecuador 1-2 Argentina (Messi 21)

Lionel Messi gets his second! He slithered through a woolly challenge just outside the area and then, as defenders converged, smashed a rising drive past Banguera at the near post.

Updated

19 min Argentina’s greater class – and greater need – are starting to tell.

17 min As things stand Argentina are out, but I suspect things won’t be standing like this for long.

16 min Messi is crackling with menace every time he gets the ball. He moves away from a couple of defenders on the left of the box before hitting a fierce shot that is beaten away by Banguera.

14 min Cevallos is booked for a late tackle on Enzo Perez.

GOAL! Ecuador 1-1 Argentina (Messi 12)

That’s a fine equaliser from Argentina. Messi played the ball out to Di Maria on the left and hared towards the area. Di Maria eased a superb return pass into his path and Messi stabbed the ball past the outrushing Banguera.

Lionel Messi and Dario Benedetto race back to restart the game after Messi’s equaliser.
Lionel Messi and Dario Benedetto race back to restart the game after Messi’s equaliser. Photograph: Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Updated

11 min This is a very open game. Ramirez leathers one from 35 yards and Romero holds on at the near post.

10 min Di Maria flashes another superb cross into the six-yard area that beats everyone and drifts past the far post. He and Messi look sharp.

9 min Argentina are a mess at the back. Ramirez beats his man far too easily down the left before his cross is headed away. At the other end, Di Maria’s long-range shot deflects onto the roof of the net. Banguera didn’t seem particularly perturbed.

The latest scores

  • · Brazil 0-0 Chile
  • · Ecuador 1-0 Argentina
  • · Paraguay 0-0 Venezuela
  • · Peru 0-0 Colombia
  • · Uruguay 0-0 Bolivia

7 min That was better from Argentina. Messi played a pass wide to Di Maria, who sidefooted a superb first-time ball that flashed across the face of goal and wide.

5 min As it stands, Argentina are in the malodorous stuff. They need to score at least one and probably two if they are to avoid humiliation. Ecuador are looking dangerous on the break, with Renato Ibarra’s cross almost falling for Ordonez at the far post.

3 min “Riquelme and Veron on the bench?” asks Jamie O’Sullivan. “It seems to have gone under the radar that Argentina will be able to call upon not one but two midfield maestros from yesteryear tonight, and therefore stands to reason that this should be an easy win for the Albiceleste.”

Seba has unfinished business at the World Cup. You know it and I know it.

Oh my giddy God. Ecuador took the lead almost straight from the kick-off. Romario Ibarra played a neat headed one-two with Ordonez on the edge of the box before thumping the ball past Romero with his left foot.

Ecuador celebrate after taking a shock early lead.
Ecuador celebrate after taking a shock early lead. Photograph: Fernando Vergara/AP

Updated

GOAL! Ecuador 1-0 Argentina (Romario Ibarra 1)

Ecuador have scored after 40 seconds!

1 min Peep peep! he game is under way. Ecuador are in yellow, Argentina are in blue and white.

The feed’s working! It’s really small!

Five minutes to kick-off and my (legal) feed of the game isn’t working. This could be a triumph.

I’d like to apologise in advance for tonight’s coverage. Specifically: all of it I probably won’t have chance to check my emails that often, as I’m too old for this multi-game/permutations lark. It’s not you, it’s bloody well me!

“The Universal is a great song,” says Simon McMahon. “Although when it comes to Scotland, it really really really couldn’t happen.”

“Howdy from Austin, Texas,” says Michael Sciortino. “Think all these permutations are getting sports statisticians a little hot and bothered? They must love this.”

This? This is a tingle compared to the life-changing orgasm that was the last day of the 1983-84 season in Romania’s Divizia C, Seria VIII.

The magic of the World Cup, with Matt Dony

“After Wales reverted to type and tamely threw away a play-off place to Ireland/Wimbledon c1988, I’ve lost investment in the World Cup. It’s hilarious that the Netherlands have blown it yet again, I kind of hope Argentina fail in some amusing way (a red card for Messi would be magnificent), and I hope some stodgy, boring team Greece their way to the trophy, boring hundreds of millions of people around the world. Bah, humbug.”

You want Ireland to win the World Cup? You’ve changed your tune since the start of that email.

“Hey Rob, I live in Ecuador and follow the selección closely,” says Matthew Carpenter-Arevalo. “My take on this game: the Ecuador team is broken after not qualifying. The dressing room disintegrated and a number of key players either quit or were told not to come back. The team you’ll see tonight is full of young people getting their international debut. A lot of fans are staying away from the stadium, even though Messi himself is a huge draw and the game still means something for Argentina. Lastly, the altitude hasn’t been much of a benefit for Ecuador: they lost to both Peru and Paraguay at home. A motivated Argentina have a decent chance.”

“I’d avoid calling Messi the world’s second best player,” says George Ritchie. “You might alienate core parts of your audience tonight.”

I was just going on last year’s Ballon d’Or. I should have learned my lesson in 1990, when I was widely ridiculed at school for regularly describing Robby Langers as the joint 26th best player in Europe.

Updated

“Hey Rob,” says Paul Cockburn. “This last round of games in S America has garnered a fair bit of interest in NZ, especially here in Wellington where the first leg will he held. Opinion is mixed. Last time we had one of these play-offs, we got spanked by Mexico. It’s hard to see any of the S American teams being too scared of the All Whites, but, hey, against Paraguay, maybe…? Realistically, then, what we want is for Argentina to finish fifth, so Messi can come to Aotearoa and sign for Wellington Phoenix while he’s here…”

I can’t see them beating a South American team over two legs but stranger things have happened – see 2010 World Cup, only unbeaten team.

An email! “Hi Rob,” says Simon Frank. “Greetings from the very much at sea level Bahamas. A propos of not very much, I spent six months in Quito back in 1993 where I took in a load of Nacional games at the Estadio Atahualpa. Great stadium. They used to have an enormous bottle of Guitig (local mineral water) at the entrance. Is it still there?”

While I find your faith in the Guardian budget quite touching, I’m not actually in Quito. But we do have a watercooler in the MBM dungeon, if that helps?

A number of scripts have been written for this game, and the most obvious involves Lionel Messi taking Argentina to the World Cup single-footedly. It’s hard to imagine a World Cup without the world’s second-best player, especially as it would almost certainly be his last chance to emulate Diego Maradona and win the thing.

The teams

Ecuador (4-5-1): Banguera; Velasco, Aimar, Arboleda, Ramirez; Intriago, Orejuela, Romario Ibarra, Cevallos, Renato Ibarra; Ordonez.
Substitutes: Ortiz, Piedra, Johnson, Israel Murillo, Plata, Uchuari, E Valencia, Garces, Lopez, Arreaga.

Argentina (3-4-2-1) Romero; Mercado, Mascherano, Otamendi; Salvio, Enzo Perez, Biglia, Acuna; Messi, Di Maria; Benedetto.
Substitutes: Guzman, Marchesin, Fazio, Pezzella, P Perez, Icardi, Casco, Rigoni, Riquelme, Veron, Banega, Paredes, Dybala, Gomez.

Updated

Preamble

A World Cup without Argentina? Yes it really, really, really could happen. If they fail to win in Ecuador tonight, they may well miss out for the first time since 1970. This is the table going into the last round of fixtures. It’s all desperately complicated, with something riding on all of these games:

  • Brazil v Chile
  • Ecuador v Argentina
  • Paraguay v Venezuela
  • Peru v Colombia
  • Uruguay v Bolivia

Brazil have qualified, and only the mathematicians think Uruguay might not go to Russia next summer. Four teams qualify automatically, while the fifth-placed side will fancy their chances in a play-off against New Zealand. Those two/three remaining places are between Chile, Colombia, Peru, Argentina and Paraguay.

The permutations are infinite, but Argentina know that if they win they will not finish lower than fifth. If they draw, they are at the mercy of results elsewhere and might even need a favour from Brazil. The match will be played in Quito, where Argentina haven’t won since 2001. It’s almost 10,000 feet above sea level, and apparently the pitch is flooded. Godspeed, lads.

The action starts at 00.30 GMT. We’ll be focussing on Argentina but will keep you updated on the other games, at least until 1.47am, when following five matches becomes too much, and I start weeping gently.

Quito awaits.
Quito awaits. Photograph: Hector Vivas/Getty Images

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