Argentina's hat-trick hero Lionel Messi has commented on his Man of the Match performance against Ecuador, as well as almost missing out on the World Cup.
Missed the game? Click through the mini-gallery above to see the best images from Messi's performance.
The 30-year-old scored all three goals as Argentina came from behind to beat Ecuador 3-1 away from home to book their 2018 FIFA World Cup ticket for Russia.
The crucial win ensured that the South American giants finished in the direct qualification spots in the South American qualification table.
"This team deserves to be at the World Cup," Messi said, as quoted by the Argentina FA's official Twitter account and translated into English.
"(After the early goal) we reacted quickly to get back into the game.
"Let's hope we get a chance (to put the ghosts of the last World Cup to rest). We all hope for that."
Argentina entered the final qualification match day outside the qualifying spots – and not making it to Russia was a real possibility – but Messi insisted a World Cup without his country would have been "crazy".
"It would have been crazy had Argentina not made it to the World Cup. We played three finals and the group still has its doubters," he added.
The two-time World Cup winners qualified alongside Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia from South America, while Peru booked the playoff spot and Copa America champions Chile missed out.
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