- September 08, 2023 07:46Messi speaks
We know that they are difficult matches in the qualifiers. Ecuador has very good players, they know what they are doing and they are very good physically.
It was a very tough match, very physical. I was a little tired so I went out but I felt good.
Not long ago we were world champions but it seems like a lot happened. We have to keep going, competing and qualifying for the next world championship, going game after game
- September 08, 2023 07:33FULL TIME
And that is it. Argentina scrapes through, thanks to the in-form Messi. Not much to separate between the teams apart from an individual brilliance of a man. La Albiceleste will next take on Bolivia on September 13 while Ecuador will face Uruguay on the same day
- September 08, 2023 07:2790’
Four added minutes
- September 08, 2023 07:2589’ Substitution for Argentina
OUT: Messi IN: Palacios
Messi hands over his captain armband to Di Maria
- September 08, 2023 07:2185’
De Paul finds Di Maria on the left side of the box. The latter shoots but the ball goes brushing past the crossbar!
- September 08, 2023 07:19YELLOW CARD82’
Paredes is booked for a mindless challenge on Caicedo
- September 08, 2023 07:1881’
Into the final ten minutes of the game
- September 08, 2023 07:1578’ Messi scores
Messi takes the free kick. A very doable range for the Argentine skipper AND HE DOES IT IN STYLE. ARGENTINA TAKES THE LEAD VIA MESSI’s LEFT FOOTED FREE KICK! He just can’t stop scoring. Continues his rich vein of form from Inter Miami. He’s now scored 104 goals for Argentina in 167 games
- September 08, 2023 07:1376’ Substitutions for Argentina
OUT: Lautaro IN: Alvarez; OUT: Mac Allister IN: Paredes
Free kick for Argentina as Lautaro is fouled at the edge of the box
- September 08, 2023 07:1275’
Superb pass from Molina towards Di Maria. Space was there but Pacho’s sliding tackle keeps him at bay
- September 08, 2023 07:0871’
Rodriguez gets the ball inside the box. Tagliafico comes up with a timely interception as the Ecuadorian was about to take his shot
- September 08, 2023 07:0770’
Terrific save from Galindez. A De Paul-Messi combo powered a dangerous looking attack. De Paul found Messi despite two marking defenders. Messi tries to find the bottom left corner but Galindez predicts it right
- September 08, 2023 07:0467’ Substitution for Ecuador
OUT: Cifuentes IN: Ortiz ; OUT: Plata IN: Rodriguez
- September 08, 2023 07:0365’
Impact right from the get go from Di Maria. Wonderfully worked pass from Enzo to Di Maria. The latter then changes the line of play and finds Lautaro at the edge of the box but three defenders gang up to avert danger
- September 08, 2023 06:5962’ Substitution for Argentina
OUT: Gonzalez IN: Di Maria
- September 08, 2023 06:58YELLOW CARD61’
First yellow of the match and it’s for Cifuentes for his rash tackle on Otamendi
- September 08, 2023 06:5760’
WHAT A DEFENSE FROM ROMERO! Valencia was running away from the defense and it was just Emi Martinez between him and a goal before Romero slid in to avert danger. The latter lets out an aggressive shout right in the face of Valencia but is off the hook with just a warning
- September 08, 2023 06:5558’
Romero gets control of a well worked through ball on the right. Finds Lautaro inside the box. The latter tries to shoot but two defenders converge and force him to play it towards Messi. The skipper immediately finds Tagliafico, who tries a long-ranged finish but fails to keep it on target
- September 08, 2023 06:5155’
De Paul gets fouled by Pacho and that’s a setpiece situation for La Albiceleste. But it’s from an awkward angle for Messi to take direct chances. Sends it in, a goal line clarance off Mac Allister’s shot!!
- September 08, 2023 06:4953’
Molina serves in an inviting cross from the right flank but there’s no one to capitalise on it
- September 08, 2023 06:4852’
Di Maria starts to warm up on the sidelines and the crowd goes bonkers
- September 08, 2023 06:4851’
Gonzalez, Tagliafico, Enzo team up to initiate an attack. Tagliafico finally finds Enzo before the edge of the box, the latter tries his luck form long range but the ball is nowhere near the post
- September 08, 2023 06:4649’
Superb set of moves from Messi as he almost evades a couple of defenders before being fouled. Advantage played, Molina takes the attack forward. The latter then finds Enzo in the middle and the ball then goes to Mac Allister but there are far too many defenders for the Liverpool man to do anything substantial
- September 08, 2023 06:4447’
Corner for Argentina. Messi takes it as usual. He serves a curling cross but it is headed away by Torres for a throw in
- September 08, 2023 06:42Second half underway
Argentina starts the proceedings. No substitutions on either side thus far
- September 08, 2023 06:25Half time!
And that puts an end to an entertaining first 45 minutes. Argentina, albiet being the more dominant side, hasn’t been able to find the opening and it all came down boiling at the stroke of half time when Lautaro hit the post. Another cracker of a half awaits
- September 08, 2023 06:2345+2
LAUTARO HITS THE CROSSBAR! Enzo sent it inside the box. Lautaro, marked by a couple of bodies, slided towards the ball and got a touch, only for it to crash onto the cross bar!
- September 08, 2023 06:2145’
Dangerous looking long ball from Nico towards Messi. Torres gets there before anyone to head it out for a corner. One added minute
- September 08, 2023 06:1741’
What a moment that would’ve been. Galindez takes his time to initiate the goal kick. Lautaro rushes towards him and gets a touch on the ball. Gonzalez on the left tries to pick it on the rebound but the ball goes out for a throw for Ecuador
- September 08, 2023 06:1539’
Good looking pass from Otamendi towards De Paul on the right lane. But the ball travels faster than expected
- September 08, 2023 06:1237’
Foul on Valencia as Ecuador gets a free kick. Plato serves it inside the box, Pacho tries to head it in but fails to keep it on target and it’s a goal kick
- September 08, 2023 06:0834’
Corner for Ecuador as a long ball finds Molina’s head on the way out. Hurtado sends in a searching lofted ball but there’s no one to recieve it
- September 08, 2023 06:0630’
Otamendi gifts possession near the half way line. Plata capitalises and makes a run towards goal. But Tagliafico cuts him off
- September 08, 2023 06:0429’
WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY! Gonzalez gets the ball inside the ball on the right side. He plays one towards Lautaro but Torres gets there quickly to clear it. Corner for Argentina but nothing happens
- September 08, 2023 06:0227’
Dangerous looking attack from Argentina. Messi, Enzo and Lautaro blaze past the midfield and get the ball near the edge of the box. Messi to Enzo to to Lautaro inside the box but the play gets intercepted by a couple of Ecuador defenders
- September 08, 2023 06:0025’
Mistakes mounting now for Argentina. This time it’s Otamendi, who gives possession away and is forced to kick it out for a thrown in
- September 08, 2023 05:5822’
Bad ball from Molina towards De Paul, who’s unable to take control. Would’ve been catastrophic for Argentina had Plato got hold of the ball.
- September 08, 2023 05:5621’
Foul and this time it is by Enzo on Estupinan. Caicedo opts to backtrack as Ecuador makes moves cautiously
- September 08, 2023 05:5318’
Caicedo fouls Messi again. The Chelsea man has looked off since the start of this game and the trend continues. Of course, Messi will take the free kick but will be from a long way out for him to try his luck. He floats one inside the box but it is in no man’s land
- September 08, 2023 05:5216’
First shot of the game comes in the 15th minute. Superb one-two from Messi and Mac Allister. The latter feeds it to Messi just outside the box and the Argentine skipper lets it fly but the ball goes blazing past the crossbar. One of those rare occasions where he has missed an opportunity from that range. A missed chance for Messi’s standards!
- September 08, 2023 05:4913’
Pacho and Estupinan tries to organise an attack. They make quick strides on the left lane but Molina is up for the challenge as he cuts Estupinan off
- September 08, 2023 05:4711’
Free kick for Argentina. Messi takes it and floats one inside the box. Lautaro jumps to capitalise the volley but the ball goes straight into Galindez’s gloves
- September 08, 2023 05:469’
Caicedo is down and in pain. Looks like he’s hurt himself while challenging for the ball against Messi. Medical attention is required. But nothing serious, he’s up and running quickly
- September 08, 2023 05:458’
Ecuador has a stacked backline, with five defensive options and that has been a problem for Messi and Co. But they’ve looked threatening so far.
- September 08, 2023 05:427’
Mac Allister, from near the halfway line, attempts a lofted long ball in an attempt to find Gonzalez but looks like he’s exerted more power than desired as the ball runs away for a goal kick
- September 08, 2023 05:415’
Enzo to Gonzalez on the left. The latter tries to cross it inside the box towards Lautaro but gets intercepted
- September 08, 2023 05:394’
Link up play between Messi and De Paul kickstarts an attack. The former then plays it to Molina on the right flank, who pushes it inside the box but Pacho gets to the ball and clears it
- September 08, 2023 05:382’
Sedate start to the game. Argentina gained possession right after kickoff and has managed to keep the ball for quite a while, making Ecuador panic. Eventually leads to Caicedo pushing Tagliafico down
- September 08, 2023 05:35Kick-off!
Ecuador gets the ball rolling and will start left to right
- September 08, 2023 05:29Match-ready
The players have entered the field and it’s time for national anthems. Ecuador’s anthem plays first. Two 100 million buys, both of whom play for Chelsea - Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo, will be in action today!
- September 08, 2023 05:24Under 10 minutes to kick-off
The players are getting ready and will enter a packed Estadio Monumental stadium shortly. Obviously, the home team, Argentina, will get the maximum backing going into the clash
- September 08, 2023 05:11Form guide
- September 08, 2023 05:02Preview
Lionel Messi and his Argentina lineup will be back on World Cup duty this week, when their bid to defend the title starts in South American qualifying.
Argentina will face Moisés Caicedo’s Ecuador on Thursday at the Monumental de Nuñez Stadium in its first official match since winning the World cup in December.
The last time a World Cup winner played in South American qualifying was in 2003, when Brazil had to secure its spot in a tournament with 32 teams.
The 2026 edition in the United States, Mexico and Canada is expanding to a 48-team format, which means the number of direct spots from South America increases from four to six and the seventh-place team goes into an intercontinental playoff for another place.
So teams like Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay are almost sure to advance from the round-robin qualification tournament that runs until September 2025. The new format has led many top coaches and players to see the tournament as preparation and an opportunity for renovation rather than a make-or-break competition.
The Argentina squad will be laden with World Cup winners, with the 36-year-old Messi joined by the likes of goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez, defender Nicolás Otamendi, midfielder Enzo Fernández and striker Julián Álvarez.
Since moving to the U.S. from Europe to join Inter Miami, Messi has scored 11 goals in MLS and is in good form.
Coach Lionel Scaloni is yet to lose a South American World Cup qualifying match, with Argentina’s last defeat in the tournament — in 2017 — coming before his tenure started.
- September 08, 2023 04:52Ecuador lineups
- September 08, 2023 04:51Argentina starting 11 - Skipper Messi returns to int’l duty
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