Tue. Jun 11th, 2024

Messi opened Argentina’s goal book in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers. Argentina started the World Cup qualifiers by facing Ecuador in Buenos Aires this morning Bangladesh time. The last time world champions got off to a good start with a 1-0 win scored by Lionel Messi. Messi scored the goal from a free kick in the 78th minute.

Argentina get off to a good start in their new World Cup campaign under the magic of Messi

Ecuador’s midfielder Moises Caicedo fouled Lautaro Martinez in front of his own box in the 77th minute and Argentina got a free kick. Messi’s curling free kick from about 20 yards out was seen by Ecuadorian goalkeeper Hernán Galindez into the net. The ball curled into the net near his right post so perfectly that Galindez moved a little to jump, but it was as if by magic!

Argentina vs Ecuador photo by AFP
Argentina vs Ecuador photo by AFP

The last time South America scored a free kick in a World Cup qualifier was 16 years ago. Colombia’s Ruben Dario Bastos scored the goal against Venezuela in 2007. Messi took his record a little further by scoring the first goal in the match in the history of World Cup qualifiers. Messi scored the first goal 14 times in the World Cup qualifying match. The previous record was held by former Guatemalan striker Carlos Ruiz. Argentina remained undefeated for 22 consecutive matches in the World Cup qualifiers.

Leo: “I came out because I was a bit tired. It’s probably not the last time that will happen [come out during the last minutes of the game]. It’s all good, I’m fine.”

Argentina dominated Ecuador by keeping possession of the ball throughout the match. But the attack could not benefit in that way. Finishing suffers. In the 70th minute, as Rodrigo de Paul and Messi exchanged the ball between themselves, they created a scoring opportunity past some Ecuadorian defenders. But Messi’s shot was blocked by Galindez. Until then it seemed that the match was going towards a draw.

But Argentina won the fifth consecutive match after winning the World Cup in Qatar last December with Messi-Magic. Lionel Scaloni’s team has also kept a ‘clean sheet’ in these five matches. Argentina scored 14 goals in these 5 matches. And Messi has also touched Luis Suarez’s record for scoring in the qualifying round of the South American region. The Uruguayan star (29) held the record for the highest number of goals in this continent’s qualifiers. Messi equaled his friend’s record by scoring against Ecuador.

Argentina got the first goal chance in the 16th minute of the match. Messi received the ball in a corner of the box. But could not take the shot properly. Hit the ball outside the post. A minute before the end of the first half, Lautaro Martinez hit the ball on Ecuador’s post. Galindez also blocked a shot by Rodrigo Di Paul, who played brilliantly throughout the match.

Argentina will face Bolivia in their second match in La Paz on Wednesday.

Paraguay were held to a goalless draw by Peru in the other South American qualifier. Colombia beat Venezuela 1-0. Each team will play 18 matches in the qualifiers from this continent. Out of the 10 participating teams, the top 6 teams will directly qualify for the 2026 World Cup. The seventh team has to play in the intercontinental play-offs.

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