By 90Min
October 11, 2017

Joey Barton has suggested that Ecuador's players may not have been entirely committed in Tuesday night's World Cup qualifier defeat against Argentina.

The home side fell to a 3-1 defeat in Quito, a result which saw them eliminated and Argentina through to next summer's finals in Russia.

Lionel Messi's superb hat-trick inspired the away side to a vital, pressure-relieving win, and left a dejected Ecuador in eighth.

There appeared to have been little concern over the legitimacy of Argentina's victory, although Barton is of the opinion that there was "something not quite right".

In particular, the former Newcastle midfielder was focused on Ecuador's No.23, Dario Aimar, the 22-year-old defender.

"Watched the Messi goals this morning," he wrote on Twitter. "Something not quite right with the Ecuador no 23's movement and behaviour."

Barton's conspiratorial accusations were not shared by those that responded, most of whom pointed out that it was instead likely simply the brilliance of Messi that had left Aimar disoriented.

Most of the attention, rightly so, was on the inexorable match-winning display of Argentina's No.10, who almost single-handedly led his nervous and tentative teammates to the World Cup.


"Today luckily the nationality of the best player in the world is Argentinian," coach Jorge Sampaoli said after the game, quoted by Sky Sports.

"We must be sure everything does not depend on Leo but today he showed his great ability. I told the group 'Messi did not owe the World Cup to Argentina, but football owed the World Cup to Messi'."

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