KEY POINTS

  • Lionel Messi scored a penalty in Argentina vs Ecuador
  • It was Argentina's first game since November 2019
  • Argentina will next take on Bolivia Tuesday

Lionel Messi insisted that it was "important" to start with a win even though Argentina’s performance Thursday was not lackluster.

Argentina were earlier scheduled to begin their CONMEBOL qualifying campaign for Qatar 2022, but the coronavirus pandemic had wrecked their plans. The Messi-led side finally returned to action, for the first time since November 2019, when they took on Ecuador at La Bombonera – the iconic home of Argentine powerhouse club Boca Juniors.

The Argentina skipper, Messi, once again stepped up as he converted a 13th-minute penalty into a 1-0 victory for his side in Buenos Aires in their World Cup qualifier game against Ecuador Thursday.

The win took Argentina’s unbeaten streak to eight, dating back to the 2019 Copa America in July.

At a post-match interview, Messi spoke about Argentina’s return to action after a gap of 11 months.

"We knew it was going to be complicated. but the most important thing is that we won and now we have to work to keep growing. It was important to start off with a win because we know how difficult the world cup qualifiers are. The matches are always tough. We hoped the level of play would be different but it's been almost a year since we played together, this was our first game back and the nervousness makes it complicated," Goal quoted Messi, as saying.

The World Cup qualifier fixture took place in Argentina despite the COVID-19 crisis in the country. Around 856,000 confirmed cases and over 22,700 deaths have been reported in Argentina so far.

"It was a complicated year for what we are living through. Being able to go back and play with the Argentina national team and give happiness to people with the win, beyond the game, serves to decompress. Much strength to all Argentines," added FC Barcelona’s Messi.

Lionel Messi's last ambition is to win the World Cup with Argentina Lionel Messi's last ambition is to win the World Cup with Argentina Photo: AFP / Jack GUEZ

Argentina’s next World Cup qualifier match is scheduled against Bolivia Tuesday before the end of the current international break.