Central & South America
It’s been 35 years since Peru’s last appearance at a FIFA World Cup finals, a streak of hurt dating back to the 1982 tournament in Spain. By improbably finishing fifth in CONMEBOL qualifying, ahead of back-to-back Copa America champions Chile and 2014 finalists Ecuador, a home-and-away playoff against Oceania representative New Zealand is the only thing standing in the way of Peru punching their ticket to Russia.
Lionel Messi scored a hat trick against Ecuador to secure Argentina's place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia last Tuesday. Folks in Argentina are understandibly excited about that. One Argentine club, Sacachispas, was so excited they went out and did this:
Nuestro único héroe en este LÍO! pic.twitter.com/6o5zqMUzs6
— Sacachispas (@SacachispasOK) October 14, 2017
Tuesday sure was wild, huh? CONCACAF CONCACAF’d the sh*t out of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers for two insane hours. There was a lot to take in. A lot. Wacky own goals, rampaging ball boys and hugging commentators. And USMNT World Cup dreams dashed. So like Hillary Clinton after her election loss, let’s revisit what the hell just happened.
Maybe you’ve already heard, but the USMNT will not be going to the World Cup. They’ve been gazumped in the Hex by both Panama and Honduras following the most embarrassing defeat in the history of American sport. But America’s loss is another’s gain, primarily Panama’s, who’ve clinched automatic qualification to Russia.
Lionel Messi, with the hopes of a football crazed nation on his shoulders and the studs of a negative Ecuadorian side in his shins, scored an unfathomable hat trick to send Argentina to the World Cup. What else do you want to hear? What else do you want to know?
You know what Kobe Bryant once said: “You shake a tree and a leopard is gonna fall out.” Well, Ecuador shook the tree. Ecuador's Romario Ibarra netted a nifty little goal off a couple of give-and-go headers and La Albiceleste were off to a nightmarish start. Then the leopard fell out.
Lionel Messi is the leopard. Messi went on to score two goals just eight minutes apart (12’ and 20’) to give Argentina life on the last day of this crazy CONMEBOL qualifying campaign.
Messi goal vs Ecuador #1
Ever wondered what the most insane way to support your national team would look like? If yes, this article is for you. Peruvian fans have reportedly turned to sorcery and shamanism in order to guarantee qualification to the World Cup. Take a look at the unbelievable ritual going on here.
Lionel Messi might not go to the World Cup. Argentina need to win in Ecuador, a country they have only won in once in the last 56 years, to guarantee at least a spot in a playoff to go to Russia.
This is disheartening for most soccer fans, because Lionel Messi is the best player in the world and a joy to watch. His resume speaks for itself: five Ballon d'Ors, 2014 World Cup Golden Ball, La Liga all-time top goalscorer, Argentina all-time top goalscorer, 30 trophies won with Barcelona.