The Argentina captain scored the goal from a free kick, set a record in playoffs and triumphed in the debut against Ecuador.
Writing BUENOS AIRES
A debut with victory in the qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup had Argentina at defeat Ecuador 1-0 with a goal from a free kick by Lionel Messi. This victory, which comes 263 days after that December 18, 2022, which marked the third star for the Argentine team, it also arrived loaded with a new record for the captain of the Albiceleste.
Before the more than 85 thousand people who filled the stands of the ‘Monumental’ Stadium in Buenos Airesthe Argentine team found in a magical free kick from its captain Lionel Messi the possibility of a victory at home at the beginning of the road to the next World Cup, where he will defend the title obtained in Qatar 2022.
On the fifth anniversary of the Scaloni cycle since that premiere on September 7, 2018 against Guatemala in Los Angeles, the ‘Scaloneta’ had an unconvincing performance before a euphoric audience but finally celebrated the official premiere of the third star at the shield.
This goal allowed Messi overtakes the Uruguayan Luis Suárez as the all-time top scorer in the qualifying rounds with 29 goals each.
On the side of Ecuador, this result with defeat meant the Official debut of Spanish coach Félix Sánchez Baswho took La Tri after the successful cycle led by the Argentine Gustavo Alfaro that achieved a historic qualification to the World Cup in Qatar.
In the first minutes it was intensity for Ecuador that sought to surprise a local team who sought to play around Messi with Lautaro Martínez as an area reference but who found it difficult to connect to have risky situations.
In the first 20 minutes saw the best of Messi, captain and star of Inter Miami, with a frontal center first that Lautaro Martínez did not connect with and then a shot from the left before a pass from Alexis Mac Allister that went just wide.
At minute 25 came the only one from Ecuador in this first stage with a weak shot by Enner Valencia that Emiliano ‘Dibu’ Martínez contained without problems.
Three minutes later, an Argentine connection ended with a Tagliafico cross that ended with a deflected shot from Lautaro Martínez.
At the end of this first stage, two actions came with two separate crosses by Rodrigo De Paul, the first saved by Félix Torres and the second with an imperfect shot by Lautaro Martínez that ended up on the right post of Hernán Galíndez in the clearest of this first stage.
The beginning of the second stage was with the same tune of the first half and Argentina in the 49th minute came for the first time with a shot by Enzo Fernández which went wide over the crossbar.
And in minute 54 came another dangerous action for Argentina with a perfect free kick from Messi for Alexis Mac Allister’s header that demanded a spectacular reaction from Hernán Galíndez to save the fall of his fence.
Three minutes later, an arrival of Nicolás Tagliafico to the bullfight led to a left side shot which went just wide over the crossbar.
About the mIn minute 66 an option came from Ecuador with a play from left to right for Enner Valencia’s weak shot that ‘Dibu’ Martínez controlled without problems.
And an absent Messi was present in the 68th minute with a quick connection with De Paul that left the Argentine captain with a free shot that required Galíndez to stop the ball stretching out his right hand.
Barely two minutes later they beat Nahuel Molina’s back with a cross behind Valencia that the entered Kevin Rodríguez could not connect with precision and ended up diluting a clear situation for the visit.
In minute 76, a free kick on the edge of the area generated the expectation of the Argentine public on the edge of the area that allowed LIonel Messi with a perfect shot leaves the goalkeeper Galíndez standing and allow Argentina to take advantage on the scoreboard.
And in minute 84, the local could seal the victory with a great play by Rodrigo De Paul who gave an assist to Ángel Di María for a cross definition that went just wide.
In stoppage time, a play from right to left ended with a shot by Rodrigo De Paul that Galíndez managed to clear, in a result that ended up sealed with a effortful triumph of the world champion before his public with a goal from his captain, who withdrew replaced to receive a new ovation and a mime to the soul.
En la segunda jornada de estas eliminatorias, este martes Argentina visitará en el estadio Hernando Siles de La Paz a Bolivia, mientras que Ecuador recibirá en Quito a Uruguay.
1. Argentina: Emiliano Martinez; Nahuel Molina Star, Christian Rosemary, Nicholas Otamendi, Nicholas Tagliafico; Rodrigo De Paul, Enzo Fernandez, Alexis Mac Allister (m.76, Leandro Paredes), Nicholas Gonzalez (m.61, Angel Di Maria); Lionel Messi (m.88, Exequiel Palacios) and Lautaro Martinez (m.76, Julian Alvarez). Coach: Lionel Scaloni.
0. Ecuador: Hernan Galindez; José Andrés Hurtado (m.80, Angelo Preciado), Roberth Arboleda, Félix Torres (m.80, Ángel Mena), William Pacho, Pervis Estupiñán; José Cifuentes (m.67, Julio Ortíz), Carlos Gruezo, Moisés Caicedo; Gonzalo Plata (m.67, Kevin Rodríguez) and Enner Valencia. Coach: Felix Sanchez Bas.
Gol: 1-0, m.76: Lionel Messi.
Referee: The Colombian Wilmar Roldán admonished Leandro Paredes and José Cifuentes.
86.169 espectadores hubo en el estadio 'Monumental' Antonio Vespucio Liberti del barrio porteño de Núñez.