Argentina were at risk of missing their first World Cup since 1970 before Lionel Messi's heroics in Quito Reuters

Argentina bounced back from conceding early in their crunch World Cup qualifier against Ecuador to win 3-1 and book their place at next summer's World Cup, courtesy of a Lionel Messi hat-trick.

The two-time world champions fell behind in the first minute in the high altitude of Quito, but Messi equalised in the 12th minute after combining with Angel Di Maria.

The Barcelona forward scored his second of the night eight minutes later with a long-range effort and then completed his hat-trick with a fine solo goal on the hour mark.

The victory lifted Argentina to third on the South American qualifying standings from sixth, with the top four teams automatically qualifying for 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Colombia also sealed automatic qualification after playing out a 1-1 draw with Peru, who beat Chile to the play-off spot courtesy of their superior goal difference.

Meanwhile, the United States failed to qualify for a World Cup for the first time since 1986 after they fell to a 2-1 defeat against Trinidad and Tobago.

The US went into the game in third place in their qualifying group and were favourites to qualify, but the defeat to Trinidad — combined with victories for Panama and Honduras elsewhere — dropped them down to fifth place and out of contention.

"I think it's disappointing. It's a blemish for us," USA coach Bruce Arena was quoted as saying by ESPN. "We should not be staying home for this World Cup. I take responsibility for that.

"There's nothing wrong with what we're doing. Certainly as our league grows, it advances the national team programme. We have some good young players come up.

"Nothing has to change. To make any kind of crazy changes I think would be foolish. We're building a good system in our professional league. We have players playing abroad of some quality.

"There's enough there. There's no excuses for us not qualifying for the World Cup."