Messi powers Argentina to win over Ecuador

He scored from a free kick in the 77th minute

By Web Desk
September 08, 2023
Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring a goal.- AFP

Lionel Messi scored a goal in the second half to power Argentina to a 1-0 home win over Ecuador on Thursday in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.

World champions Argentina dominated possession but struggled to break the deadlock.

However, skipper Messi continued his superb form by scoring from a free kick after 77 minutes.

"We played against a great team, with good players and physically strong," Messi told reporters.

"Everyone always wants to beat Argentina and even more so now that we are the world champions. We can't relax, we have to improve on what we've been doing.

"The objective is to qualify for the World Cup again. We really enjoyed what we did but we have to look ahead."

In terms of goals, Messi is now tied with Luis Suarez of Uruguay as the all-time top scorer in the South American qualifying competition with 29.

"It's a pleasure for me that we are both there," said Messi, who has now scored 104 international goals. "Given what the qualifiers mean for us in South American football, it's a very nice thing for both of us."

Argentina will face Bolivia on Tuesday.

In other qualifiers, Paraguay drew 0-0 with Peru while Colombia registered a 1-0 home win over Venezuela.

The first round of CONMEBOL qualifiers continues on Friday when Uruguay host Chile before Brazil face Bolivia.