Lionel Messi scores sublime free kick to lead Argentina to 1-0 win over Ecuador in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier
- With the game in something of a stalemate, Messi stepped up and delivered
- The Inter Miami genius scored in the 78th minute before he was subbed in 89th
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Lionel Messi guided Argentina to a slender 1-0 victory over South American rivals Ecuador thanks to a sumptuous free kick in the 78th minute.
Ecuador goalkeeper Hernan Galindez could do little but stop and stare as Ecuador’s hopes of a point in the CONMEBOL 2026 World Cup qualifier opener.
The diminutive No. 10 was substituted in the 89 minute to a standing applause and salute of its Argentina’s favorite son.
In other qualifiers, Paraguay drew 0-0 with Peru while Colombia claimed a 1-0 home win over Venezuela.
World champions Argentina were dominant in possession but frustrated in attack as they struggled to make the breakthrough.
The first round of CONMEBOL qualifiers continues on Friday when Uruguay host Chile before Brazil take on Bolivia.
With the goal, Messi equaled close friend and former Barcelona teammate, Luis Suarez, atop the all-time CONMEBOL WCQ goal scoring charts, with 29.
Argentina’s next World Cup qualifier comes on September 12 vs. Bolivia in La Paz.