Argentina vs Ecuador, 5 talking points from the Lionel Messi masterclass
Leo Messi hoisted Argentina on his back and carried them all the way to Russia. Messi will not miss his chance for World Cup glory
Result: Ecuador 1 - 3 Argentina
Ecuador: Romario Ibarra 1'
Argentina: Lionel Messi 12', Lionel Messi 21', Lionel Messi 62'
Teams that have qualified from the CONMEBOL region, ie South America - Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia. Meanwhile, Peru advance to the play-off with New Zealand, win it and it will be their first WC since 1982.
That also means South America's two-time defending champions Chile will not be taking the flight to Moscow.
But before we go to the rest of South America, let's focus on what was a superb match at Quito that proved to be as entertaining as promised... Here then are the key talking points from the match
#5. Jorge Sampaoli's Dybala gamble pays off
Sampoali tested the Dybala-Messi-Icardi trident for one game and figured out it wouldn't work - as Uruguay ground out a draw with the Argentines in his first professional game in charge of La Albiceleste.
He tried it once again against Venezuela, but by then he'd seen enough.
His conclusion? Drop Dybala for the must-win game against Peru - and they drew that. Considering the sheer volume of flak he received for that move (as well as benching Icardi) a lesser man would have caved and played the in-form Juve man today, but then lesser men don't have cojones the size of small planets.
Figuring that Dybala and Messi were merely getting in each other's way - and with no time to work out an optimum solution, he simply decided to drop the one player he could from the duo - and against Ecuador it paid off. With everyone sticking to their positions as indicated, Messi was given the freedom of the park, and he showed everyone just what he can do.