ARG vs BRA World Cup qualifiers: Lionel Messi walks out in violent match; Argentina beat Brazil

In a fiery 2026 World Cup qualifying clash, Argentina emerged victorious with a 1-0 win over Brazil. But, the match was overshadowed by pre-match crowd trouble that caused a delay in kick-off.

The tension between the two South American giants escalated at Rio’s iconic Maracana Stadium before the game even began. Brazilian police were forced to intervene. They used batons to disperse a group of Argentine fans, creating a volatile atmosphere.

The Argentine players attempted to calm the situation. Goalkeeper Emi Martinez even tried to confront a baton-wielding Brazilian police officer. 

At one point, Lionel Messi and his teammates briefly left the field. Messi expressed their reluctance to play amid the chaos. “We’re not playing, we’re leaving,” AFP quoted Leo as apparently saying.

The teams finally returned to the field after a delay of approximately 30 minutes. The tense atmosphere continued. Early clashes led to bookings for both sides.

None of the teams could produce clear-cut chances in the first half. Frequent fouls disrupted the flow of the game. Brazil’s Raphinha was booked for an arm-to-face incident. Argentina’s Rodrigo De Paul also faced rough challenges.

Brazil struggled to create meaningful opportunities, with their first shot on goal coming in the 38th minute. Gabriel Martinelli’s attempt was cleared off the line by Argentina’s Cristian Romero.

The second half saw Brazil with a more positive approach. However, Argentina took the lead in the 63rd minute with Nicolas Otamendi’s headed goal from a corner delivered by Giovani Lo Celso. Brazil’s woes continued as substitute Joelinton was sent off in the 82nd minute for an off-the-ball incident with De Paul.

Brazil in trouble

This was Brazil’s third consecutive defeat in World Cup qualifiers, a first in their football history. It also marks their first-ever home loss in a World Cup qualifier. Argentina’s victory further confirmed their place on top of the South American qualifying standings with 15 points from six games. Brazil now find themselves in the sixth place with seven points from six games.

Uruguay, Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador are ahead of Brazil on the points table at the moment. The five-time world champions, however, have a lot of time to recover since the South America World Cup qualifiers will go on until September 2025.

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Updated: 22 Nov 2023, 09:40 AM IST

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