Football owed the World Cup to Messi insists Argentina boss
Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli said his side cannot totally rely on Lionel Messi as his team swept aside Ecuador 3-1 to qualify for the World Cup.
Messi scored a hat-trick as the club recovered from an early Ecuador strike to claim all three points and a place in Russia.
Speaking after the result, Sampaoli said his squad “should help (Messi) to be in the World Cup” and that Argentina “took a big step ahead”.
He said: “They won the game with authority. (The opposition) scored a goal and we did not despair.
“Today luckily the nationality of the best player in the world is Argentinian.
“We must be sure everything does not depend on Leo (Messi) (but) today he brought his great ability.
“I told the group: Messi did not owe the World Cup to Argentina, but football owed the World Cup to Messi.
“We should help him be in the World Cup.”
The goal in the opening minute for Ecuador – when Romario Ibarra struck – did not faze the Argentian side, Sampaoli said.
“I think the game became complicated in terms of planning. It became more difficult because Ecuador scored in the opening minute.
“But we, as a group, had the ability to appreciate the match lasts 90 minutes.”