Today, in the Mas Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, the reigning world champions Argentina were able to start their qualifying campaign for the 2026 World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Ecuador. Lionel Messi scored the game-winning goal with a fantastic late free kick.
Messi scored in his eighth consecutive international encounter as he deftly dispatched a free kick from the edge of the penalty box in the 77th minute of the game. Ecuador put on a strong defensive display throughout the game, but it was not enough to prevent Messi from scoring.
Messi scored a goal from close range, just as he does so frequently, after Lautaro Martinez was pulled down at the top of the penalty area by an Ecuadorian defender. The goalkeeper for Ecuador, Hernan Galindez, was utterly still the entire time.
Before the corner kick, Martinez hobbled off the field with an injury and was replaced by Julian Alvarez. Leandro Paredes entered the game in place of Alexis Mac Allister.
Argentina, the reigning champions of the world, dominated possession but were unsuccessful in their attacks as they battled to make a breakthrough.
Messi has been on an incredible scoring streak for Argentina, scoring multiple goals in a row.The player who won the Most Valuable Player award at the 2022 World Cup has been on fire for Inter Miami. In his first 11 games in the United States, he has scored 11 goals and assisted on five more.
This hot start comes on the heels of Messi’s exploits in Qatar last year, where he scored in every game but one en route to Argentina’s victory against France in the World Cup final via penalty shootout. Messi’s performance in Qatar was a major factor in Argentina’s success.
In the other matches for qualification, Paraguay and Peru played to a scoreless draw, while Colombia defeated Venezuela 1-0 at home.
On Friday, the first round of CONMEBOL qualifiers will continue with Uruguay playing host to Chile, and then Brazil will face off against Bolivia.