Lionel Messi scored a free-kick goal in the 78th minute to give Argentina a 1-0 win over Ecuador in their opening match of the 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign.1

Argentina dominated possession but struggled to create clear-cut chances against a well-organized Ecuador side. The deadlock was finally broken when Messi curled a free-kick into the top corner from 25 yards out.

Messi's goal was his 104th for Argentina in 176 appearances, and it put him level with Pele on the South American all-time scoring list.

The Argentina players and fans celebrated wildly after Messi's goal, which gave them a perfect start to their World Cup qualifying campaign.

The Ecuador players were disappointed to lose, but they were encouraged by their performance against a strong Argentina side.

The win is a major boost for Argentina, who are the defending Copa America champions. They will be hoping to build on this result and qualify for the 2026 World Cup in style.

Argentina will next play Chile on September 11, while Ecuador will face Peru on the same day.

Messi's goal was a reminder of his brilliance and his importance to Argentina. The 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign is still in its early stages, but Argentina will be confident of qualifying with Messi leading the way.