Lionel Messi Stunned As Police Hit Argentina Fans With Sticks In World Cup Qualifier vs Brazil. Watch

World Champions Argentina edged out rivals Brazil 1-0 in an ill-tempered World Cup qualifier at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. The kick-off of was delayed by around 30 minutes on Tuesday after clashes between Brazil and Argentina supporters. The much-anticipated clash between South American football’s two superpowers was due to kick off at 9.30pm local time (00:30 GMT Wednesday) but was held up after disturbances in the stands. Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez tried to jump into the seating area at one stage to confront a baton-wielding Brazilian police officer.

Several Argentina players went towards the disturbances in an apparent attempt to plead for calm, before captain Lionel Messi took his teammates inside the tunnel.

“We’re not playing, we’re leaving,” Messi was heard as saying while leaving the pitch.

Messi was also involved in a verbal spat with Brazil winger Rodrygo Goes who had seemed to have labelled the Argentina players as “cowards”.

Three Brazil players were booked inside the first-half, before Joelinton was shown a straight red card off for an off-the-ball clash with Argentina midfielder Rodrigo De Paul, with his team already trailing 0-1.

Argentina had take the lead in the 63rd minute after defender Nicolas Otamendi headed home from Giovani Lo Celso’s cross from a corner.

Messi later explained he had taken his team-mates off the field in the hope of cooling the atmosphere.

“We went to the locker room because it was a way to calm everything down a little. We went to see how our families and people close to us were doing. And then we came back,” said Messi after the match.

The win was Argentina’s first in a World Cup qualifier on Brazilian soil.

Meanwhile, the loss left five-time champions Brazil in sixth place with seven points from six games.

Both Brazil and Argentina came into the game on the back of defeats against Colombia (2-1) and Uruguay (2-0) respectively.

(With AFP Inputs)

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