He got so used to winning Argentina in the last half that a draw as a visitor against Ecuador It doesn’t close too much. He was left with a certain anger because they matched him with a disputed penalty. Of course, a while after the closing match in the South American Qualifiers He understood that it was a detail. Nothing important. You can enjoy the essentials. After the failure in Russia 2018, he rebuilt himself, put together a new team, made Messi happy, was champion of America and landed in the World Cup well in advance. You can enjoy all that and something more. Argentina and Leo travel undefeated to Qatar.
This Argentina of Messi already has 31 games without losing, with 20 wins and 11 draws. This equality in Guayaquil allowed him to match the best undefeated in albiceleste history, a record held by that National Team that at the beginning of the 90s had Alfio Basile as coach and Gabriel Batistuta, Claudio Caniggia, Diego Simeone as players… And no it’s chance. Lionel Scaloni knew how to put together a group of steel, already ultra affirmed, winner, with a powerful column, with variants.
In Guayaquil, Argentina failed to assert itself in the initial 20 minutes. Ecuador imposed its speed and hurt, especially because of the band that Gonzalo Montiel marked. In an albiceleste formation confirmed shortly before the game and with multiple surprises, perhaps the least expected as a starter, Gerónimo Rulli, responded to the circumstances in a couple of complicated episodes.
However, the goal that Ecuador deserved ended up being shouted by Argentina for its immense individual hierarchy. Messi set up a couple of combinations with Alexis Mac Allister and Rodrigo De Paul; Nicolás Tagliafico put the center back; and Julián Álvarez, in his first time in light blue and white since the start, celebrated his goal selected number one with a forehand half-turn. As for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City to smile.
Ecuador had filled the Monumental de Guayaquil with the idea of celebrating its qualification for the World Cup. That emotional rush, that impulse, made him convince at the start, but after Argentina’s goal, he was not the same. He was able to score the second for the albiceleste with a header from Nicolás Otamendi that covered goalkeeper Hernán Galíndez, but the action ended in a balance zone.
Ecuador tried to control and manage the ball. Already in advantage, Argentina was ordered and regulated in a context of heat and humidity that the visitor in Guayaquil usually affects. Messi seemed to feel tired in the second half. The other Lionel, Scaloni, moved the bench, but nothing changed too much.
Rulli for a penalty but fails to avoid the goal
However, very close to the epilogue, already in the second added minute, there was a tiny hand from Tagliafico discovered by the VAR and discussed to the extreme. Rulli drew a save and covered Enner Valencia’s penalty, but the Ecuadorian grabbed the rebound and equalized. Argentina was left with a temporary bad feeling. The idea was to win, but he did not lose. Every day it seems like a more solid, more serious team, so much so that it arrives in Qatar enjoying a historic unbeaten record. Now it remains for her to wait for what fate tells her in the draw on Friday and to hope that no unforeseen bad taste will alter her before the World Cup.
1 – Ecuador: Hernan Galindez; Byron Castillo (m.81, Ángelo Preciado), Robert Arboleda, Piero Hincapié, Pervis Estupiñán; Carlos Gruezo (m.73, Jeremy Sarmiento), Moisés Caicedo, Alan Franco (m.59, Ángel Mena), Gonzalo Plata; Romario Ibarra (m.59, Enner Valencia) and Michael Estrada (m.81, Jordy Caicedo).
Coach: Gustavo Alfaro
1 – Argentina: Geronimo Rulli; Gonzalo Montiel (m.77, Juan Foyth), Nicolás Otamendi, Lucas Martínez Quarta, Nicolás Tagliafico; Leandro Paredes (m.77, Guido Rodríguez), Rodrigo de Paul, Alexis Mac Allister (m.58, Exequiel Palacios); Julián Álvarez (m.71, Ángel Correa), Lionel Messi and Nicolás González (m.77, Lucas Ocampo).
Coach: Lionel Scaloni
Goals: 0-1, Julián Álvarez (m. 24); 1-1, Enner Valencia, from a penalty (m. 93)
Referee: the Brazilian Raphael Claus admonished MacAllister, Castillo, Moisés Caicedo, Franco, Scaloni, Estrada, Otamendi, Hincapié and Tagliafico
Incidents: Match for the final day of the South American qualifiers for the Qatar World Cup played at the Monumental Banco Pichincha stadium, in Guayaquil before some 60,000 fans