Uruguay's players celebrate with supporters after defeating Bolivia 4-2 during their 2018 World Cup football qualifier match in Montevideo on October 10. -AFP
Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia booked their place at next year's World Cup finals on Tuesday in a thrilling final round of qualifiers that saw South American champions Chile eliminated. Argentina advanced after a Lionel Messi hat-trick secured a 3-1 win in Ecuador.Uruguay meanwhile sealed their place in Russia with a 4-2 home win over already-eliminated Bolivia.
Colombia qualified after a battling 1-1 draw with Peru in Lima. Peru's draw was good enough to give them a playoff berth which will see them take on New Zealand over two legs for a place in the finals. But the combination of results spelt the end of the road for Chile, who were beaten 3-0 by Brazil and knocked out.
A nation exploded with relief on Tuesday as Lionel Messi single-handedly dragged his Argentina team into next year's World Cup finals with a spellbinding hat-trick in Quito. Messi is E.T. He's from another planet. He's not from this world," Marco Mouras, a 28-year-old Brazilian said in a crowded Buenos Aires bar as Argentinians around him went wild, beer and pizza spilling onto the floor.
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