Rio de Janeiro, November 22: In a highly charged 2026 World Cup qualifying clash marred by pre-match crowd trouble, Argentina emerged victorious over Brazil with a 1-0 win on Tuesday at Rio’s iconic Maracana Stadium. The decisive moment came in the 63rd minute when veteran defender Nicolas Otamendi scored a header, securing the crucial three points for Argentina.
The win propelled Argentina to the top of the South American qualifying standingswith 15 points from six games, showing resilience after their recent defeat to Uruguay.
On the other hand, Brazil suffered their third defeat in the qualifying campaign, leaving the five-time world champions in sixth place with seven points from six games.
Before the match even began, tensions escalated in the stands at the Maracana, leading to Brazilian police using batons to control a block of Argentine fans. Several Argentina players approached the disturbances in an attempt to calm the situation, with goalkeeper Emi Martinez even trying to jump into the seating area to address the situation with a baton-wielding Brazilian police officer.
As clashes continued, Argentina’s players, led by Lionel Messi, decided to leave the field, with Messi reportedly expressing, “We’re not playing, we’re leaving.” The pre-match turmoil resulted in a delay of approximately 30 minutes, but eventually, both teams re-emerged onto the field, and the match kicked off shortly thereafter.
Despite the off-field incidents, the players displayed resilience and determination, with Argentina ultimately securing a crucial victory in the intense and ill-tempered encounter.
(ToI With AFP inputs)