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Lionel Messi’s interview after Argentina’s 1-0 victory over Ecuador in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers

Messi gave this thoughts on the win over Ecuador and also commented on his fitness levels, as he played 89 minutes, despite fatigue concerns.

Update:
Messi gave this thoughts on the win over Ecuador and also commented on his fitness levels, as he played 89 minutes, despite fatigue concerns.
LUIS ROBAYOAFP

Leo Messi spoke to the media after the first game of the South American World Cup 2026 Qualifiers against Ecuador, in which the victory was sealed thanks to a sublime free-kick in the 77th minute from the man himself.

Argentina went into the game under pressure to get their qualification process off to a positive start as reigning world champions, and after a hard-fought battle against an impressive Ecuador side, they will be confident that their unbeaten run can continue.

‘This group is not going to relax’, says Messi

After the game, the number 10 spoke to the media where he opened up on the positive attitude within the camp: “We know that every game we have to give 100% to get through. That was clear to see in the friendlies we played and today it was for points; this group is not going to relax after what we have achieved, which is something historic and extraordinary,” he explained.

The concern going into the game was whether or not the Inter Miami forward could - or should - feature, given how many minutes he has played recently with the MLS side. The man may be a genius, but he is 36-years-old and even as an alien, he still appears to age.

Messi hints at future substitute appearances

“It probably won’t be the last time I start going off during games”; Messi said, “but I felt very good. It was a difficult game to play, very physical, very hard, but I felt very good,” he commented, downplaying the importance of the substitution.

“As you saw, if we drop our level, they overrun us. There are going to be tough games like this, defeats for sure, but we have to keep our heads screwed on” added Messi, highlighting the difficult and diverse nature of all the games in South American qualifying.

CONMBEOL:

Lionel Messi's 77th minute strike was enough to get past Ecuador in Buenos Aires.
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Lionel Messi's 77th minute strike was enough to get past Ecuador in Buenos Aires.JUAN MABROMATAAFP

Messi equals goalscoring record

Messi did what Messi often does, and he broke/equalled another goal record. This time, he drew level with Suárez’s South American qualifier goal-scoring record thanks to his superb free-kick finish, something he acknowledged after the game by saying “it’s a pleasure to be there for both of us, with what the Qualifiers mean. That we are both there is something very nice for both of us.”

Argentina’s next game is against Bolivia, a tie with a huge geographical hurdle the climb: the altitude of La Paz, which sits at 3,625 m. You can follow the game live on AS USA.