They fell behind after just 38 seconds in Ecuador but Messi delivered a stunning hat-trick to take them through. The Barcelona forward completed his hat trick before the hour, sealing the win a spot in Russian Federation.
No Argentine national player apart from Messi has found the net for their country in over a year. Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia were the four teams that qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup that will be held in Russian Federation.
Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli revealed that he referred to Messi to help inspire his players before the match.
Argentina began the day in sixth position and in danger of not qualifying for a World Cup for the first time since 1970. This was the match where Messi overtook Telmo Zarra as the player with the most hat-tricks ever in Spanish football. This is a team victory.
Their extensive experience with travel - having played in New Zealand, Fiji, the United States, New Caledonia, Northern Ireland, Belarus, Russia, the Solomon Islands and Japan in the past 12 months - would hold them in good stead. "All we're thinking about is picking up points in Brazil", Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo said in a press conference. They should consider themselves lucky as they are going to play against a team, Ecuador, who have already been eliminated from the competition. "But that will be the end, it's very clear to me".
Messi said the Argentina squad "will change, will grow a lot, will be stronger after this".
The Albiceleste conceded inside the first minute, before a Messi brace put them ahead before the break.
They only won seven of 18 matches, including dropping four points against Paraguay, while Brazil secured their spot in Russian Federation way back in March. Messi tapped in a low-footed goal.
He duly did, bagging two goals in three minutes late on to complete his hat-trick and secure a spot at the World Cup in Rio.
Argentina now sits in sixth place on 25 points.
"I take full responsibility", Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi announced his resignation following the exit.
"There was some fear of missing the World Cup".
James Rodriguez and Colombia were a thrill to watch in Brazil 2014, and they'll be back in the World Cup as long as they avoid defeat in Peru. The only way for Uruguay to fall to fifth is: it loses to Bolivia, plus Chile, Colombia and Argentina all win and Argentina scores at least nine goals to overtake Uruguay on goal difference.
Lionel Messi came to Argentina's rescue on Tuesday.