Argentina 12-1 for World Cup after Messi magic

Argentina are 12-1 to win next summer's World Cup in Russia after a 3-1 win over Ecuador on Tuesday ensured their presence at the finals.

A Lionel Messi hat-trick meant the Albiceleste finished fourth in Conmebol qualifying to seal automatic qualification.

It could have been so different.

Argentina, who had to win to have any chance of qualifying, fell behind after just 40 seconds to a Renato Ibarra strike before the Messi masterclass saved his country's blushes.

They qualify along with Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia, while Peru secured a playoff with New Zealand.

Alexis Sanchez and Chile miss out after losing 3-0 to Brazil while USA have also failed to book their ticket for the finals after they slumped to a shock 2-1 defeat away to Trinidad & Tobago.

It's the first time since 1986 that the USA have failed to qualify with Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama going through from Concacaf qualifying.

Honduras face a playoff with Australia.

Messi's old nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo will also be in Russia next summer after Portugal beat Switzerland 2-0 in Lisbon to finish top of Group B.

Holland are out despite beating Sweden 2-0 in Group A.

The Dutch had to win by seven clear goals to make the playoffs ahead of the Swedes.

France won the group courtesy of a 2-1 win over Belarus.

Les Bleus are 6-1 second favourites behind 11-2 Germany to lift the trophy next summer, with Brazil 13-2 and Spain next best at 8-1.

 

Match in Focus

19:00 TODAY SSMI

Sociedad v Espanyol

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Sociedad's five home league and European games have produced 24 goals
Expert verdict
Espanyol look a big price to spring a surprise in San Sebastian. The Catalans have only lost two of their last seven – they were against Barcelona and Real Madrid – while Sociedad do leak goals at home after conceding ten in four league outings. The visitors signed off last term with three away victories in four, and can return to winning ways.

 

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