Lionel Messi once again demonstrated his ability to step up when Argentina needed him by scoring a stunning late winner in their World Cup qualifying match against Ecuador.
Lionel Scaloni’s team started their South American qualifying campaign at Buenos Aires’ Estadio Monumental but struggled to find inspiration for much of the game.
During the first half, Argentina failed to register a single shot on target. They brought on Angel Di Maria just past the hour mark in an attempt to change the course of the match.
However, it wasn’t until the 78th minute that they scored the winning goal. Unsurprisingly, it was Messi who made the decisive contribution. Argentina won a free-kick from just over 20 yards out, and the 36-year-old maestro stepped up and expertly curled the ball over the wall and into the bottom corner of the net.
You can watch the full clip below.
— cabjedits (@bocavideos2022) September 8, 2023
THIS VIEW OF LIONEL MESSI’S FREE KICK!pic.twitter.com/AjW7nUWnHC
— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) September 8, 2023
Messi’s goal was a classic display of his skill—a precisely executed free-kick that cleared the wall and curved beautifully into the net, leaving Ecuador goalkeeper Hernan Galindez with no chance.
Despite having players like Moises Caicedo, who is the British record signing, and former West Ham and Everton striker Enner Valencia in their squad, Ecuador couldn’t find a response. This victory marked a perfect start to the qualification campaign for Messi and the Argentina national team.
Speaking after his winning goal, Messi told reporters (quotes viaGoal): “It was shown in the two friendlies and today, by the points, that this group is not going to relax beyond what it achieved. It was historic, extraordinary.
“We know that, if we go down a little, they will pass us over. There are going to be tough matches like this. Defeats, surely.
“We have to be as we are now, with our feet on the ground. Fight every game as we have been fighting since Scaloni started with all this.”
Argentina are in action again on Tuesday when they travel to Bolivia for their second match of South American qualifying.