Argentina finished their FIFA World Cup Qualifying (WCQ) campaign with a 1-1 draw against a determined Ecuador, becoming the first team to go through the entire process unbeaten since the format’s introduction in 1998.
Both teams had already qualified for Qatar before taking the field at the Estadio Banco Pichincha, but it didn’t detract from the game’s early intensity.
Ecuador took the initiative early on, with Robert Arboleda’s header almost missing the crossbar before Michael Estrada’s dangerous cross was bundled wide.
Despite their efforts, the hosts fell behind in the 24th minute when Nicolás Tagliafico found Julián Lvarez, who promptly knocked home a blocked shot for his first international goal.
After Tagliafico was found to have touched Gonzalo Plata’s header in the box, Ecuador’s golden opportunity came in the 93rd minute.
Enner Valencia, Ecuador’s all-time top scorer, calmly scored the rebound after his penalty was saved at first, to make sure they had only lost once at home since 2020.