Lionel Messi, who scored the hattrick that sent Argentina to the World Cup said it would have been odd had they not qualified. And is now looking to win the competition.
Argentina were sixth on the CONMEBOL table and in danger of missing out if they failed to beat Ecuador.
The Albiceleste conceded inside the first minute, before a Messi brace put them ahead before the break. The Barcelona forward completed his hat trick before the hour, sealing the win a spot in Russia.
“There was always the fear of coming here to play. Luckily, we could react and we managed to play well,” Messi told reporters after Argentina finished third.
“We were calm, we achieved the goal and that is the most important thing. Thanks to God, we fulfilled the objective.
“It would have been crazy not to be in the World Cup. The group deserved to qualify.
“There has been criticism despite having played three consecutive finals and today was an important day for all, especially for those who have been here longer.”
Messi continued: “We were away from the press for a while and the people. I think it served to get us closer. If we all go hand in hand, everything will be easier.
“It was unfair what happened in the World Cup and the two Copa Americas. We ended up suffering to enter this World Cup and hopefully we will get it once and for all.
“Enjoy the qualification and prepare little by little. The team will change, there will be another and it will grow.”