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Key Events

86'
J. Mascherano
Yellow Card
62'
L. Messi
N. Otamendi
1 - 3
20'
L. Messi
Goal
1 - 2
12'
L. Messi
Á. Di María
1 - 1
1'
R. Ibarra
R. Ordóñez
1 - 0

Match Stats

Possession
54% 45%
4
2
Shots Off Target
Shots On Target 3 7
Total Passes 396 329
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Live table
Pos Team P W D L F A +/- PTS Form
1 Brazil BRA Brazil 18 12 5 1 41 11 +30 41 W D D W W
2 Uruguay URU Uruguay 18 9 4 5 32 20 +12 31 W D W D L
3 Argentina ARG Argentina 18 7 7 4 19 16 +3 28 W D D D L
4 Colombia COL Colombia 18 7 6 5 21 19 +2 27 D L D D W
5 Peru PER Peru 18 7 5 6 27 26 +1 26 D D W W W
6 Chile CHI Chile 18 8 2 8 26 27 -1 26 L W L L W
7 Paraguay PAR Paraguay 18 7 3 8 19 25 -6 24 L W L W L
8 Ecuador ECU Ecuador 18 6 2 10 26 29 -3 20 L L L L L
9 Bolivia BOL Bolivia 18 4 2 12 16 38 -22 14 L D W L W
10 Venezuela VEN Venezuela 18 2 6 10 19 35 -16 12 W D D D L

Key

Final Tournament
Intercontinental Play-off

Commentary

Thank you for following along with our live text commentary of Ecuador vs Argentina. We hope you enjoyed it and we look forward to seeing you soon!
As for Jorge Sampaoli and Argentina, results elsewhere have gone their way and they will astoundingly finish third in qualification, only behind Brazil and Uruguay. A minute into the match it looked as though all hope was lost, but the Albiceleste quality shone through and they deserved their victory – even if it was the culmination of one man’s brilliance. Argentina have booked their place in Russia next year, at the expense of back-to-back Copa America winners Chile!
An extremely open and fluid game, even Ecuador who had nothing to play for gave their all and embraced the role of spoilers. Jorge Celico can be proud of the young side he fielded, who showed attacking impetus the entire way through the match. While their defending left something to be desired, it would take a monumental effort by anybody to stop Messi with the form he was in today. While they will not be travelling to Russia in 2018, the fans in Quito can be happy with the determination of their side, and look to a bright future. 
It has been a phenomenal match and a credit to World Cup qualification in South America. With their lives on the line, Argentina managed to overcome a first minute deficit thanks to the sheer brilliance of Lionel Messi. His hat-trick calmed Argentine nerves and single handedly guaranteed Argentina a spot in the play-offs at the very least. 
FULL-TIME: ECUADOR 1-3 ARGENTINA
90' + 3' Argentina will be rewarded with a free-kick right in the Ecuadorian corner. Only seconds left to play here and no doubt this set piece will be an exercise in time wasting. 
90' + 1' Renato Ibarra found space on the right-hand side and attempted a long range curler which went predictably wide. Sergio Romero can breathe a sigh of relief once again as the opportunity was wasted selfishly.  
F. Fazio
E. Salvio
90' The last substitution of the day for Argentina will be a defensive one, with centre-back Federico Fazio coming on for midfielder Eduardo Salvio.
88' STAT: Argentina had scored less than anybody except for ninth place Bolivia before today. Their 16 goals were even less than dead-last Venezuela, who were punished with two 3-0 losses as a result of fielding an ineligible player. 
J. Mascherano
Yellow Card
86' Uchuari was absolutely annihilated by Mascherano who dropped his shoulder and ran right into the Ecuadorian number 11. He will be given a deserved yellow for his offence. 
L. Paredes
Á. Di María
84' Di Maria appears to be in some pain with the stretcher coming onto the field to carry him off. Leandro Paredes will enter the game in his place, although the PSG winger is walking on the touchline. Sampaoli perhaps with the win already seemingly guaranteed is being extra cautious.
81' Ibarra tried to play Uchuari in the box but the ball runs too far for the substitute. Ecuador instantly appealed for a handball on Nicolas Otamendi but their claims are instantly waived away by the Brazilian match official.
79'   Ramirez sent in a fantastic cross from the left for Estrada who met it with his head but put it over the bar. It seems as though Estrada also made contact with the head of Otamendi, as both instantly clutched their forehead after the end of the play. 
J. Uchuari
J. Intriago
77' Ecuador’s final substitution of the match sees Intriago exit the game for Uchuari who will make his second appearance for the national side.
M. Icardi
D. Benedetto
76' Sampaoli has decided to make his first substitution of the evening, with Icardi entering the fray for the ineffective Dario Benedetto.
M. Estrada
Yellow Card
75' Estrada will be given a yellow card for a push at midfield, right on the near touchline. 
75' The corner is headed away and straight to Di Maria on the counter. He frees himself and crosses it long to Benedetto who, upon controlling the pass, can do nothing aside from play it back to the midfield. 
74' Ibarra’s free-kick flies over everyone’s head and falls to Ramirez who’s cross is blocked for a corner kick.
73' Argentina found themselves in a great attacking position with the ball on the left wing but the cross was hit exceptionally poorly, with Acuna falling to the floor as he hit it. A wasted chance with a number of Argentinian players waiting in the area. 
70' The brilliance of Lionel Messi has gone a long way to mask the inefficiencies of Dario Benedetto, who has barely been mentioned today. He has been unable to make his mark on the game. Perhaps a substitution is in the offing.
68' Messi, finding space inside the box attempted to square a pass to Benedetto but the assist was blocked well and put out for a corner which Messi himself took. The danger was promptly cleared by Ecuador but possession remains with Argentina, who are now up by two. 
66' STAT: Argentina have only won one of their last five games in Ecuador – managing three goals in that span before today.
M. Estrada
R. Ordóñez
64' Immediately after the goal Celico makes his second switch of the game, replacing Ordonez with Preciado.
N. Otamendi
Assist
62' Enzo Pérez is awarded the assist on Messi's third goal of the night.
L. Messi
Goal
62' IT’S A HAT-TRICK FOR LIONEL MESSI! HE HAS SINGLE-HANDEDLY DRAGGED ARGENTINA FROM THE BRINK! Marked by three Ecuador defenders the Barcelona forward chipped Banguera while falling to the ground in incredible fashion just inside the penalty area. Superb from Leo Messi! 3-1!
L. Biglia
Yellow Card
61' A rare Messi giveaway leads to a cynical foul by Biglia on Ibarra to stop the counter-attack. The Argentine holding midfielder was shown a yellow card for his infraction. 
59' The delivery was great but Mercado once again does his set-piece duties and clears the ball for an Ecuadorian throw right at midfield. His earlier error could have been costly however, and turnovers of that sort are the precise reason Argentina find themselves in the lead.
58' Mercado has given the ball away to Romario Ibarra but the cross is exceptionally poor and met quickly by an Argentine defender who blasted the ball out for a corner.
56' Otamendi and Ordonez are both writhing on the floor after Ordonez climbed all over the Argentine centre-back to win an aerial duel. The Albiceleste number 17 is furious with the challenge and made sure the referee, and his opponent, was aware of his complaint. No card was produced however. 
54' Ibarra’s run then set up Velasco for a perfect cross right before the ball rolled out of play but Romero was aware of the danger and collected very well at his near-post. The Argentine defense once again looks vulnerable on the counter. 
52' The free-kick was met by an Ecuadorian and an Argentinian, with the referee awarding the corner-kick which was met by a towering Mercado header away.
M. Acuña
Yellow Card
51' Acuna was given a yellow card for a cynical foul on the right-hand side right by the touchline. 
49' Ecuador are now in possession for their first period in the second half but are quickly stopped by the opposition’s high midfield press - a staple of a Sampaoli side.
47' Argentina have started on the front foot, winning an early corner which is whipped in well but the referee blew for a foul on Argentina almost instantly. A wasted chance to get some insurance for the away side. 
46' The teams are out on the pitch and ready to start what promises to be another exciting half of attacking football!
Both managers should be relatively happy with the way things have gone. Though Ecuador’s defending has been porous at times, the brilliance of Argentina’s forward play can make even the best organized teams in the world look loose. Ecuador’s goal a minute into the game should give them the confidence to press forward and grab a second, while Argentinian nerves should be calmed a bit with the knowledge that they are only 45 minutes away from booking a spot at the World Cup.
What an absolutely breathless first half it has been. Ecuador’s breakthrough forty seconds into the contest sparked it into life from the outset and forced Argentina to attack immediately. Ibarra’s cool finish was equaled by Argentinian captain Lionel Messi’s strike after some superb build-up play by Angel Di Maria. It would only take Messi another eight minutes to notch his second after he took advantage of sloppy Ecuadorian possession right in front of the penalty area. Sampaoli’s side have come back from the brink of destruction and go into half-time with a guaranteed spot in Russia – as long as other results stay the same as well. 
HALF-TIME: ECUADOR 1 – 2 ARGENTINA
45' + 1' The free-kick is curled into the box but it missed everybody and went out for a throw-in deep in the Ecuadorian defensive third. 
45' Eduardo Salvio was fouled by the corner flag and Messi is standing over the free-kick with a chance to give Argentina a two-goal advantage just before half-time.
43' With three minutes to go, Ecuador are settling the game down a bit, holding onto possession and trying to build tactically, but the Argentine press is giving the home midfield a very difficult time. La Tricolor are not being allowed a second to think.
E. Valencia
J. Cevallos
41' Enner Valencia, currently plying his trade in Liga MX with Tigres will come on for Jose Cevallos. There doesn’t seem to be any sign of injury but his earlier booking may have played a part in the switch. 
38' Sampaoli is still gesticulating wildly on the touchline. He is clearly unhappy with the openness of the game, and the chances that the Argentine defence is giving to the Ecuadorian attack who, regardless of their lack of anything to play for, are putting in a fantastic account of themselves. 
36' Cevallos’ second corner is a very poor one which is cleared immediately. Possession was retained by Orejuela who played the ball to an unmarked Ibarra, but play is halted as the Ecuadorian goal-scorer strayed offside. 
34' cuador are now enjoying a spell of possession, with each Ecuadorian defender getting involved in the passing move before the ball is played forward and is eventually put out for a corner on the left by the Argentinian defence. The corner is defended well but results in a second attempt, this time from the other side. 
32' ALMOST 3-1! Messi slipped the ball into the run of Di Maria in the box but Banguera does a great job to come out and meet the attacker – putting the ball out for a corner kick which is headed by Mercado right at the goalkeeper. 
30' Cevallos’ corner on the right comes out to Ramirez on the edge of the area. The left-back’s half volley bounces a couple of times before popping into Romero’s grateful grasp. 
28' The corner was met by a defensive header at the near-post and the recycled ball in gave way to a foul on Benedetto by Aimar who clearly raised an elbow in his leap. A big let-off for Argentina’s defense. 
27' Cevallos feathers in a free-kick which is headed away for a corner on the right-hand side for Ecuador.
26' It is end-to-end play in Quito with each attack giving way to a rapid counter. Argentina cannot be happy with this open attacking play now that they have the lead but Ecuador are not being dictated to easily here.
24' STAT: Argentina have the second best defensive record in CONMEBOL, with only Brazil bettering La Albiceleste’s 16. 
22'   What a turnaround for La Albiceleste who looked mentally and emotionally distraught after conceding so early. They are now controlling the tempo of the match, passing slowly and very calculated. They have what they need now and do not want to concede a second – especially considering their poor attacking form away from home.
L. Messi
Goal
20' AND ITS LIONEL MESSI ONCE AGAIN TO SAVE THE DAY FOR ARGENTINA! This time the Barcelona forward takes the ball off the foot of an Ecuadorian defender and smashes the ball into the top corner. Banguera had no chance on the shot and the turnover of possession just outside the area left the defense all over the place. Argentina have their comeback! 2-1!
18' And it is the captain who floats it over the wall but the shot is headed away by the Ecuadorian wall and out for a corner kick.
17' It seems as though the nerves have settled and Argentina have taken the game by the scruff of the neck. They have been controlling the game and dominating possession since their equalizer. A free-kick after a spell of build-up is in the perfect place for a Messi strike. 
16' Messi fashioned an angle for himself just inside the Ecuador penalty area and took a shot which was palmed away by Banguera, who has had a lot to do after his side’s goal in the first minute. 
15' Acuna’s corner is defended well by the Ecuadorians who turned defense into attack with a blazing counter-attack before Ordonez’s cross goes high and wide and out for a goal-kick. 
J. Cevallos
Yellow Card
14' Straight after the goal, Jose Cevallos will be given a yellow card after lunging into a challenge on Salvio.
Á. Di María
Assist
12' Angel Di Maria will be given the assist after his pass set Messi up to slot the ball home.
L. Messi
Goal
12' GOOOAAAAL FOR ARGENTINA! AND IT HAD TO BE MESSI! Di Maria was charging down the left flank and pulled the ball back into a central position for Messi who poked it past the onrushing Maximo Banguera. Argentina have the lifeline they needed! 1-1! 
10' Messi takes a corner from the left but the near-post cross is headed away only for Argentina to re-collect. The ball is played to Di Maria but his shot goes wide of the far post and out for a goal-kick. 
9' It’s been a very cagey opening ten minutes from the away side who look visibly constrained by the weight of expectation. It will only get harder from here as time, and Argentina’s chances tick away. Sampaoli seems fully aware of the urgency required and is furiously pacing up and down the sidelines in order to push his team on. 
7' Di Maria gets in a good position in the box and flashes to ball across goal but Benedetto was a step or two behind the play. A good opportunity goes begging for the away side. 
6' Ibarra crossed the ball from the right-hand side but Ordonez’s shot inside the area was blocked for a throw. More danger to the Argentinian defense who need to settle down and take control of the game.
4'   A Messi free-kick in a central position is crossed in but the ball filters through to Banguera who grasps the ball firmly in his hands. 
R. Ordóñez
Assist
2' Ordonez's header which put Ibarra through on goal will be credited as the assist. 
R. Ibarra
Goal
2' AND IT’S A WONDERFUL GOAL FOR ECUADOR! 40 SECONDS IN AND ROMARIO IBARRA HAS BROKEN THE DEADLOCK! A phenomenal phase of interplay between Ibarra and Ordonez gets the ball in the box and Ibarra slots it calmly past Romero in the Argentine goal. Its about as bad a start as Sampaoli could imagine! 1-0 Ecuador!
1' The home side get the contest underway in their traditional yellow kit!
Jorge Celico has chosen to start today’s match with only one recognized striker in Roberto Ordonez, who is preferred today to Lazio’s Felipe Caicedo and former West Ham and Everton man Enner Valencia – with the former not being called into the squad at all. Ordonez is set to make his second appearance for Ecuador, with the 32-year old making his first appearance in their previous qualifying match against Chile. 
Jorge Celico has chosen to start today’s match with only one recognized striker in Roberto Ordonez, who is preferred today to Lazio’s Felipe Caicedo and former West Ham and Everton man Enner Valencia – with the former not being called into the squad at all. Ordonez is set to make his second appearance for Ecuador, with the 32-year old making his first appearance in their previous qualifying match against Chile. 
Argentina substitutes: Paulo Dybala, Leandro Paredes, Alejandro Gomez, German Pezzella, Ever Banega, Federico Fazio, Mauro Icardi, Emanuel Mammana, Nahuel Guzman, Agustin Marchesin, Emiliano Rigoni, Pablo Perez. 
Argentina Starting XI (3-4-2-1): Sergio Romero; Gabriel Mercado, Javier Mascherano, Nicolas Otamendi; Eduardo Salvio, Enzo Perez, Lucas Biglia, Marcos Acuna; Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria; Dario Benedetto.
Ecuador substitutes: Hamilton Piedra, Marcos Lopez, Jacob Murillo, Carlos Garces, Xavier Arreaga, Ronaldo Johnson, Pedro Ortiz, Joao Plata, Enner Valencia, Jonny Uchuari, Eduar Preciado.
Ecuador Starting XI (4-1-4-1): Maximo Banguera; Robert Arboleda, Pedro Velasco, Cristian Ramirez, Dario Aimar; Jefferson Orejuela; Renato Ibarra, Francisco Cervallos, Jefferson Intriago, Romario Ibarra; Roberto Ordonez.
With fifteen minutes until kick-off, the team news has been announced. Let’s start with the home side:
  Jorge Sampaoli, current manager of the Argentinian national team will be aware of his side’s exceptionally patchy away record in which they managed 10 out of a possible 24 points. For a side with such remarkable attacking talent, they have lacked the cohesion necessary to challenge consistently. Messi and co have not scored in an away qualifier since October 2016 – a stretch that included losses to Brazil and Bolivia before a 0-0 against second place Uruguay. Perhaps the weight of expectation has negatively affected the squad, who could miss their first World Cup Finals since Mexico 1970. 
Interestingly enough, one of Ecuador’s two away wins came at the Estadio Monumental against today’s opponents, Argentina. La Albiceleste, after a torrid campaign which saw three managers and a host of different tactical set-ups, have left their fate until the final day of games – with their future not in their own hands. Even with a win, Argentina are not guaranteed of a place in the World Cup next year, but could also end the day in third place. However, such are the permutations that Argentina could lose today’s game and still qualify for a two-legged play-off tie against New Zealand. 
A poor goal scoring record has marred their campaign but La Tricolor have a very positive home record – winning four of their eight matches in Quito. Dreadful away performances have condemned Gustavo Quinteros’ side to eighth place – regardless of results today. 
With only one match-day remaining in South American qualification, only Brazil are guaranteed of a spot in Russia, while Uruguay are ensured of at least a place in the inter-confederation play-offs. Ecuador currently sit in eighth place, five points back of the play-off spot and are thus eliminated from contention and will be absent from the finals for the first time since the 1958 edition of the tournament. 
Good evening and welcome to what promises to be an enthralling night of CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. Tonight we will feature Ecuador against Argentina at the Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa in Quito.