Lionel Messi, the soccer legend, doesn’t need a specific location to showcase his brilliance. Whether on home turf or abroad, he always manages to shine as soccer’s brightest star. His latest feat occurred during a 2026 World Cup qualifying match against Ecuador, where Messi’s magic led Argentina to a 1-0 victory.
In a much-anticipated return to the Argentine national team since the 2022 World Cup final, Messi proved his worth once again. It was in the 78th minute when he stepped up to take a free kick that would seal the win for Argentina. With his signature left-footed finesse, Messi expertly found the left side of the net, leaving Ecuadorian goalkeeper Hernan Galindez helpless, dropping to one knee in despair after the ball hit the back of the net.
The celebration that followed was a sight to behold, with Messi’s arms spread wide as he sprinted toward his Argentina teammates. They mobbed him in jubilation, while fans at the Estadio Más Monumental in Buenos Aires, Argentina, braved the cold temperatures to join in the celebration.
This goal was one Messi had scored numerous times during his stint with MLS team Inter Miami and countless other occasions during his illustrious career with the Argentine national team. Messi, a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, left the pitch just before the 89th minute, exiting to a chorus of cheers from the appreciative crowd after yet another match-winning performance.
Argentina now boasts three points in Conmebol qualifying, following their victory over Ecuador. On the other hand, Ecuador finds themselves at the bottom of the table with a deficit of minus-three points.
With the 2026 World Cup expanding, six South American teams will qualify directly for the tournament, with a seventh team competing in the FIFA playoff tournament. This expansion coincides with the event being co-hosted by the United States, Mexico, and Canada, and adopting a 48-team format.
As the journey to the 2026 World Cup continues, Argentina remains a strong contender, with Messi’s brilliance once again proving to be the driving force behind their success.