Lionel Messi saved the day for Argentina once again, scoring a free-kick winner in the 78th minute to give them a 1-0 victory over Ecuador in their opening World Cup qualifying match on Thursday.
The match was a tight affair, with neither side creating many clear-cut chances. But Messi stepped up when it mattered most, curling a brilliant free-kick into the top corner of the net.
It was Messi’s fifth free-kick goal of the year, and it took his international tally to 104. The Barcelona star is now the all-time leading scorer for Argentina, surpassing Gabriel Batistuta.
Argentina dominated possession for much of the match, but they were frustrated by a well-organized Ecuador defense. However, they eventually found a way through thanks to Messi’s brilliance.
The victory was a good start for Argentina as they begin their quest to defend their World Cup title. They will next face Bolivia on September 11.