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Argentina vs Ecuador Live Score and Commentary, FIFA World Cup 2018 Qualifiers ECU vs ARG

Ecuador 1 - 3 Argentina (Ibarra 1' ; Messi 13', 21', 64')
Updated: 11 October 2017 07:04 IST - Published: 11 October 2017 06:00 IST
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Thanks for reading, it's been an absolute pleasure. (and a privilege to have seen that Messi hattrick. If someone can explain how in the blue hell he managed to score that third goal of his, please do ping me @animenon19)

An awestruck Anirudh Menon signing off

Toodle-ooo!
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The four teams that will surely travel to Russia... 

BRAZIL

URUGUAY

ARGENTINA

COLOMBIA

PERU will head to the playoff vs New Zealand.

Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and the rest of the South American Champions CHILE ought to get themselves some new TV sets and watch Russia 2018 with VR goggles. That's the closest they'll come to playing in it. 

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PEEP! PEEP! PEEP!

LIONEL MESSI HAS HOISTED ARGENTINA ON HIS BACK AND CARRIED THEM ALL THE WAY TO RUSSIA. 

END OF. 
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93' OH ICARDI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MESSI ROLLS THE BALL ONTO THE PATH OF PEREZ, WHO DOES EVER SO WELL TO PLAY IN ICARDI... THE INTER MAN TAKES IT ROUND THE KEEPER, BUT BANGUERA DOES EVER SO WELL TO GET BACK AND SAVE THE SHOT
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92' TWO minutes of added on time; and that's been played
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91' Romero takes about an hour to get his goal kick ready
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90' Renato Ibarra tries another wild smack.... this one's broken through the Ozone
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89' Enner Valencia isn't going to give up just yet and he wins yet another foul off Biglia in a position from which Ecuador can send a decent delivery. Sampaoli battens down the hatches by taking off Salvio and bring on the massive frame of Fazio
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88' Argentina are getting penned back by Ecuador - the young men are giving their home crowd something to sing about... though the loudest singing is coming from the congregation that prays at the Church of Leo
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87' They win another freekick off that initial freekick - it's been that kind of half. 
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86' Uchuari has been excellent since coming on... he drives straight at Argentina once again, before Mascherano takes him out with an uncompromising body check. That's yellow for Masch and a promising freekick for Ecuador
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85' Uchuaro  does ever so well to wriggle his way past Biglia and power Ecuador forward.. shifting the ball out wide in the process, but Renato Ibarra's delivery's not upto scratch
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83' Di Maria, as is his wont, hobbles off with a niggle and Paredes is on to replace him. 
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82' OOOOO! Romario Ibarra won the ball off Messi with what looked like a fair challenge - setting Estrada free into the Argentine box in the process - but the ref doesn't quite like the challenge and responds to Messi's yelp of pain by giving him the foul
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81' Naughty! Renato Ibarra muay-thai kicks the shins off Acuna... but the ref doesn't quite catch that one. Lucky lad, the Ecuadorian. 
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80' Uchuaro picks out Renato Ibarra with a lovely ball and then flies into the box for the return, but the pass hits him midstride and it bounces off for a goal kick. 
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79' Enner Valencia attempts to go around Acuna, but in the process runs himself, and the ball, out of play. 
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77' OOOOO! ESTRADA! Christian Ramirez and Romario Ibarra work some space down the left before the former sends in a lovely cross that is thumped high over the bar by Estrada!
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76' Substitution for Argentina as Mario Benedetto is replaced by Mauro Icardi.... can the charismatic striker bag his first goal for Argentina? Meanwhile Ecuador take off Intriago for Uchuari
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75' Di Maria sends Ibarra into early retirement with an entirely wonderful piece of skill that leaves the Ecuadorian clutching at his shadow.... but Benedetto can't make the most of the pass that Di Maria digs out post that
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74' Renato Ibarra swings a freekick in...but it flies over everyone. Ramirez, though, salvages a corner
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73' Argentina press forward going for the ceremonial cherry on top of the cake, but Di Maria's ball into the box is hopelessly overhit 
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71' Ecuador, to their undying credit, haven't given up the ghost... they plow forward but Ibarra's shot screams into the thin air of Quito and out of the stadium
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70' Benedetto tries to feed in Savio behind the lines but Arboleda is simply too strong for him
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69' Biglia chips the ball over and beyond the Ecuadorian defence and onto Messi's feet.... Quito holds it's collective breath, but Messi chooses to pass, and it's cut off quite easily
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67' Argentina have a spring in their step now, as evidenced by Mascherano's adventurism as he goes gamboling along into the opposition half,  their captain seems to have settled everyone's nerves
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66' Ecuador look like they have just laid witness to something inhuman. And they have. Leo Messi is not from this planet.... meanwhile, it's Estrada who is on for the home side
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65' Ecuador shuffle things around by taking off Ordonez and bring on - again thanks to the utter eedjits at Sony, I am not quite sure who. Will tell you at the earliest though
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OH MESSI! OH MESSI! OH MESSI! 

Out of nothing, the great man creates magic. He finds himself in a pocket of space, drives at three defenders, slips past them and chips it into the corner of the net. 

WHAT. A. PLAYER
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64' GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL! LEO LEO LEO!
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63' Argentina are hanging on to that win they so desperately need.... but just. Ecuador are going to make sure they push them to the limits....
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62' OH! A yellow for Lucas Biglia as he cynically pulls down Renato Ibarra - as the Ecuadorian looked to break free into the unmanned Argentine half. 
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60' The corner is thumped away by Otamendi but not too far. Ecuador are camped in the Argentine half at the moment
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59' Mercado drives home the point I was making by gifting the ball to Romario Ibarra who drives at the Argentine box and wins a corner of a desperate Mascherano block
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58' With so much technical quality in their side, why do Argentina look so shambolic in possession when it's not one of Messi or Di Maria who has the ball? Astounding really
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56' Ordonez has been making hell for the Argentine back three all night long - and this time he inflicts a world of pain on Otamendi by landing on him after both challenged for the ball in the air. Considering Ordonez is built along the same lines as those mountain peaks that frame Quito... it really must have hurt
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55' Renato Ibarra is such a powerful dribbler. He scythes Argentina open with a run straight through the heart of the team before he lays the ball off to Enner Valencia, but the experienced forward's cross is not upto the mark
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54' With Messi not getting the ball much, Argentina suddenly look like that side which started the game outside the qualification places. They really, really, have been dire this campaign, and they are looking dire at the moment. 
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53' Ibarra sends in one corner, then another, but somehow Argentina survive both
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52' Yellow for Acuna as he slashes down Renato Ibarro down the right flank - Ecuador are stepping on the gas now, and the crowd can sense something coming.
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51' Ecuador try to pass their way through Argentina - but Mercado reads their intentions. Messi then takes the ball and tries to wriggle past Ramirez and Romario Ibarra, but nothing doing. 
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50' Christian Ramirez bombs down the left and lifts in a ball that is met only by the wizened ol' head of Javier Mascherano. 
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49' Which amounts the square root of jack. Nothing, Nada. 
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48' Just as I say that Angel Di Maria steps on the accelerator - Argentina always look a more complete, a more dangerous side when he is playing well - and wins a corner.
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46' Argentina's inclination to take their foot off the pedal meant Ecuador grew back into the game and they have started this half like they did the first - ok, not exactly like that (what a first minute goal, though) but they are looking sharp
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PEEP! WE ARE BACK ONCE AGAIN!

VAMOS! MORE OF WHAT WE SAW IN THE FIRST HALF, PLEASE!
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The all-important table then as it stands?

Brazil (39)
Uruguay (31)
Argentina (27)
Chile (27)

Colombia (27)

Peru (26)
Paraguay (25)

I'll wager there's going to be more changes to this one before the hour is out. What a qualification campaign we are having down in South America. 
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PEEP! PEEP! PEEP! HALFTiME!

Oh, the Lords above. What a half of football that was. Argentina are on course for sealing a place to Russia - thanks to one man - but Ecuador are in no mood to roll over and make the job easier for them. 

This is making for supreme viewing. 
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45' Salvio makes a rare surge forward and he does well to win a freekick by the corner flag on the right flank.... Messi's delivery floats teasingly across the six-yard box, but no one in blue and white can get to ti. 
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44' The boffins in charge of Sony's FIFA WC Qualifying coverage have a particular dislike for showing the clock/scorecard on the screen, so I am calculating time assuming we kicked off exactly 44 minutes ago