Lionel Messi has been showing off his free kick technique in the U.S. with several beauties in the past months. He proved on Thursday he can still do it on the international stage as an amazing Messi free kick vs Ecuador got Argentina a big win for 2026 World Cup qualifying.
Argentina had several big chances during the game including Messi missing wide in the 16th minute, Lautaro Martinez hit the post right before half and other chances.
As the clock edged closer and closer to 90 minutes the game looked destined for a 0-0 draw. Then Ecuador made a crucial mistake.
They gave Argentina a free kick just outside the box. The rest is history.
Messi free kick vs Ecuador
¡GO-LA-ZO!Con el sello de la casa, Messi de tiro libre la puso en el ángulo y llega a 104 goles con la albiceleste en 176 partidos.
Argentina 1-0 Ecuador
— Telemundo Deportes (@TelemundoSports) September 8, 2023
Lionel Messi is the last player to score a free kick for Barcelona, PSG, Inter Miami and Argentina pic.twitter.com/JsiQHFtO6e— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 8, 2023
65 career free-kicks and counting for Lionel Messi pic.twitter.com/A2BCfIUAqv— GOAL (@goal) September 8, 2023
Critics expected Messi to coast into the beautiful Miami sunsets with his career, but here he is still producing magic at the highest level.
Argentina will be pleased with the win on home soil to kick off their 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Qualification will be easier than ever this time around. In the past, South America (CONMEBOL) would be given four automatic qualification spots and one play-off spot for the World Cup.
With the expanded 2026 tournament format there will now be SIX automatic qualifying spots and one play-off spot. There are only 10 teams in CONMEBOL which means 70% of teams could go to the World Cup. It’s quite literally harder to not qualify than it is to punch a ticket for 2026 if you're a South American team.
Argentina’s next World Cup qualifier will be on Tuesday where they will travel to nearly 12,000 feet in altitude to play Bolivia in La Paz.