Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli's staunch defence of Lionel Messi

Jorge Sampaoli was impressed with Messi's performance against Peru

Argentina's World Cup hopes come down to next week's game vs. Ecuador

Sampaoli habló tras el empate de Argentina | EFE

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli came out in defence of Lionel Messi after the goalless draw with Peru on Thursday. 

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It's a result which complicated Argentina's chances of qualifying for the World Cup in Russia next summer, with everything now coming down to next week's clash with Ecuador. 

Despite the result, Sampaoli supported Messi when the game end: "You can't ask him for more. Leo gave us intensity, he pressed, he looked for the ball, he had chances, created chances, did things from impossible positions... We had a very intense Messi. 

"I am convinced, if we are as we were today, I have no doubt that we will go to the World Cup." 

The coach also spoke about Javier Mascherano, the other Barcelona player in his squad: "Mascherano ended the game very tired, but he ended it well. We hope to count on him (against Ecuador). "

Finally, Sampaoli added: "The fans recognise the players' effort, it was impressive, the affection from the supporters was incredible. The players felt it, that's why there's anger at not being able to give them a win." 

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