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Ecuador FA suspends five players after reports of pre-Argentina party

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti believes Jorge Sampaoli will employ his experience and make Argentina a force at Russia 2018.

The Ecuador Football Federation (FEF) has suspended five national team players indefinitely for indiscipline after they reportedly left their team hotel to go to a party ahead of Tuesday's 3-1 home defeat to Argentina in Quito.

In a statement on their official website the FEF named the players as Enner Valencia, Joao Plata, Gabriel Cortez, Robert Arboleda and John Cifuente.

An earlier statement from the FEF read: "Following the case of indiscipline during the national team camp ahead of Ecuador's...

 By PA Sport

Lionel Messi at his best as hat trick carries Argentina into World Cup

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Max Bretos and Herculez Gomez evaluate Lionel Messi's impact on Argentina's qualification for the World Cup.

Argentina conceded after just 37 seconds in their must-win game against Ecuador -- but Lionel Messi came to the rescue as his side booked their place at next summer's World Cup.

The number 10 hit a brace in the first half in Quito and capped off a stellar performance as he completed his hat-trick with a stunning chip over keeper Maximo Banguera just after the hour mark.

Romario Ibarra stunned the away fans -- and perhaps all of South America -- as he nodded on a ball lofted high into the danger...

Argentina, Lionel Messi must end Ecuador woes to seal World Cup spot

Argentina's hopes of reaching the World Cup will take them to one of their more challenging environments when they visit Ecuador in the final CONMEBOL qualifier on Tuesday.

La Albiceleste, captained by Barcelona star Lionel Messi, have won just two of six World Cup qualifiers held in Ecuador and once since the current format began in 1996.

By winning at the Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa in Quito at an altitude of 2,782 metres above sea level, Argentina would secure fifth place and advance to a playoff...

 By PA Sport

Coutinho score as Brazil secure first place with Ecuador win

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Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho put aside speculation about his club future to help Brazil beat Ecuador and secure a first-placed finish in their World Cup qualification group.

Coutinho is hoping to join Barcelona this summer but Liverpool have rejected three bids from the Catalan giants for their playmaker, the last a £118 million offer made up of a large number of add-ons.

The English transfer window is now closed but the Spanish remains open for a day longer so the 25-year-old may...

 By Tim Vickery

Ecuador, Uruguay are reeling at the wrong time in World Cup qualifying

Uruguay's Oscar Washington Tabarez is looking for an improved defensive effort in Thursday's key match vs. Argentina.

South America's World Cup qualification campaign is a marathon. With a total of 18 rounds played over more than two years, stretching over three club seasons, it is all but impossible to maintain consistency from the first kickoff to the final whistle.

The early pacesetters of the current campaign know this all too well. Ecuador were out of the blocks at a blistering pace, winning their first four games. The only rivals at the top of the table were Uruguay. After six rounds, a third of the way through,...