Argentina's Lionel Messi scores against Ecuador during their 2018 World Cup qualifier.
Argentina secured their place at the 2018 World Cup at the 11th hour with a Lionel Messi hat-trick beating Ecuador 3-1 in their final qualifier to confirm their spot in Russia.
The nation began the day sixth in the South American qualifying group after a poor campaign by their standards knowing only a top four place would guarantee they were competing in their 12th successive tournament.
Argentina's Lionel Messi (R) celebrates with teammate Eduardo Salvio after scoring against Ecuador during their 2018 World Cup qualifier.
Things started badly with the hosts scoring after 38 seconds, but captain, icon and saviour Messi scored the 44th hat-trick of his career to drag the country through. It is now over ten months since anyone other than the Barcelona star found the back of the net for the Argentines.
This statistic is one of the reasons that perhaps West Ham United midfielder Manuel Lanzini can realistically target a place in Jorge Sampoali's 23-man squad next summer if he has a good season with the Hammers - having only earned two senior caps to date and never in a competitive fixture.
Adrian of West Ham United and Manuel Lanzini of West Ham United take a look around the stadium prior to the Premier League match against Newcastle United.
The Argentinians are clearly struggling for creativity, particularly in midfield, with Messi having to single-handedly take control of games for the team to get anything out of them.
Yet with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Mauro Icardi available upfront this shouldn't be the case and perhaps Lanzini could be the man to allow that attacking talent to flourish with his neat play and passing in and around the box.