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Lionel Messi vs Ecuador OR Cristiano Ronaldo vs Sweden

Lionel Messi vs Ecuador OR Cristiano Ronaldo vs Sweden

The All Whites' World Cup qualification opponents Peru have been dragged into an alleged match-fixing controversy. It is also worth noting that the trio of goals now serve as Messi's first hat trick in World Cup qualifying play.

Speaking afterwards, Messi said: 'There was always the fear of coming here to play.

'It would have been insane not to be in the World Cup.

Despite going a goal down in the very first minute of their game against Ecuador, Argentina qualified for the World Cup in Russian Federation, thanks largely to a heroic performance from Lionel Messi.

"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. "We have the chance to help, he is the best player ever".

His Argentina and Barca teammate Javier Mascherano admitted that elimination "would have ended the story" for many players, presumably with several of them stepping down from the team.

" We were calm, we achieved the goal and that is the most important thing. The group deserved to qualify".

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Critics have argued the 30-year-old needs to lead his country to tournaments success to better Diego Maradona, who lifted the World Cup in 1986 and was player of the tournament.

'We were away from the press for a while and the people.

Russian Federation might be Messi's last World Cup, and it will definitely be his final attempt at the peak of his powers.

"There's enough there. There's no excuses for us not qualifying for the World Cup".

After his first global hat-trick, Messi scored the next two triple goals in merely one and a half year.

"I don't think he qualifies as the greatest that's ever played without winning the game's greatest prize".

And on November 19, Ronaldo, the Ballon d'Or incumbent, hit a hat-trick that propelled his side to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil courtesy of a 3-2 win over Sweden on the night and a 4-2 win on aggregate.

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