Ill-Tempered Clash Marred by Crowd Trouble and On-Field Tensions as Argentina Secures 1-0 Victory
In a spectacle of chaos and intensity at Maracanã, Argentina emerged victorious over arch-rivals Brazil in a tumultuous 2026 World Cup qualifying clash. The ill-tempered encounter, marked by pre-match crowd trouble, saw Argentina claim a 1-0 win on Tuesday, with a 63rd-minute header from seasoned defender Nicolas Otamendi.
The high-stakes match was marred by pre-game incidents that led to a delayed kick-off. Moments before the scheduled start time, tensions flared in the stands, prompting Brazilian police to use batons to disperse a block of Argentine fans. Several Argentina players, including goalkeeper Emi Martinez, attempted to calm the situation, with Martinez even trying to jump into the seating area to confront a baton-wielding Brazilian police officer.
Lionel Messi and his teammates temporarily retreated to the dressing room, with Messi reportedly stating, “We’re not playing, we’re leaving.” The teams eventually re-emerged onto the field around 30 minutes later than the scheduled start time, setting the stage for a contentious encounter.
The febrile pre-match atmosphere spilled onto the field as the game commenced. Just five minutes in, Brazil’s Gabriel Jesus received a yellow card after a clash with Argentina’s Rodrigo De Paul, setting the tone for a tense match marked by niggly fouls.
The first half saw a lackluster performance from both sides, with Brazil’s Raphinha receiving a booking for a clash with De Paul. Despite the tense atmosphere, Brazil failed to register a single shot on target until a 38th-minute free-kick from Raphinha.
The second half brought more action, with Raphinha’s shot blocked by Martinez and the Argentine goalkeeper making crucial saves. However, Brazil’s hopes were dashed when Otamendi’s 63rd-minute header from a corner swung in by Giovani Lo Celso secured a 1-0 lead for Argentina.
Adding to Brazil’s woes, substitute Joelinton was sent off in the 82nd minute for an off-the-ball clash with De Paul. The defeat, Brazil’s third in qualifying, leaves the five-time world champions in sixth place with seven points from six games, while Argentina sits atop the South American qualifying standings with 15 points from six games.
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