Messi's hat-trick, which included two goals in the first 20 minutes and another goal in the second half, handed Argentina a 3-1 victory and automatic qualification.
Prior to finding the back of the net not once, not twice, but three times on Tuesday evening, Messi and Argentina notably found themselves down 1-0 early.
Argentina's hat-trick hero Lionel Messi has commented on his Man of the Match performance against Ecuador, as well as nearly missing out on the World Cup.
"There was always the fear of coming here to play", Messi said, per the Mail.
"I don't think he qualifies as the greatest that's ever played without winning the game's greatest prize".
"The nationality of the best player in the world is luckily Argentine", Sampaoli told reporters. They should consider themselves lucky as they are going to play against a team, Ecuador, who have already been eliminated from the competition.More news: Kenya opposition leader withdraws candidacy
More news: Iceland become smallest nation to qualify for 2018 World Cup
More news: Bigg Boss 11 contestant files FIR against Salman Khan
Argentina had only scored 16 goals in 17 qualifiers until Tuesday, and Messi admitted that "loads of things" crossed his mind when Ecuador pulled ahead less than one minute into the game.
"The only ones who would be happy if Messi doesn't go to the World Cup would be Maradona fans because, that way, they can keep saying that he's the best".
"A World Cup without Argentina and without Messi would be a catastrophe", he said on Super Deportivo Radio de Santa Fe.
Argentina needed him and Messi delivered.
Messi's intervention might have been perfectly timed.
The Daily Mail reported that Monaco captain Falcao appeared to "gently push one player over to his nearby team mates to pass on a message". The rules on voting can be read here. In 2013, Franck Ribéry had been the favourite for the award.
Ronaldo's late heroics were crucial to him winning the coveted award.