'Football Owed Hat-Trick Hero Messi The World Cup'
'Football Owed Hat-Trick Hero Lionel Messi The World Cup'
After seeing five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi net all three goals in Argentina's 3-1 win over Ecuador, Jorge Sampaoli was adamant football owed the FC Barcelona star a place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
La Albiceleste, who were sixth in the South American qualification group before their final qualifier, managed to book their plane ticket to Russia after they beat Ecuador at the Olimpico Atahualpa in Quito.
Messi's performance on the night was something to behold, and his head coach Sampaoli had nothing but praise for the 30-year-old after the fixture.
"Football owed Messi the World Cup," Sampaoli said, as quoted by FourFourTwo.
"I told the group: Messi did not owe the World Cup to Argentina, but football owed the World Cup to Messi.
"We should help him to be in a new World Cup. I was very excited to be in a squad with him."
The former Chile boss also revealed he was relieved Argentina qualified, and insisted the hard work begins now.
"Argentina took a big step. I hope that with the preparation time we have, we can be competitive as we were today."
Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia are the other three South American sides that have booked their spot in next year's prestigious competition.
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