In a heated 2026 World Cup qualifying clash marked by pre-match crowd trouble and a delayed kick-off, Argentina triumphed over Brazil with a 1-0 win on Tuesday.
The decisive goal came in the 63rd minute when veteran defender Nicolas Otamendi headed in the winning goal, allowing the world champions to bounce back from their previous defeat to Uruguay and claim victory against their fierce South American rivals.
The match, held at Rio’s iconic Maracana Stadium, propelled Argentina to the top of the South American qualifying standings with 15 points from six games. On the other hand, Brazil, experiencing their third defeat in qualifying, stands in sixth place with seven points from six games.
Before kick-off, tensions escalated in the Maracana stands, leading to a delay in the start of the match. Brazilian police were observed using batons to disperse a group of Argentine fans, resulting in a momentary standoff. Some Argentina players, including goalkeeper Emi Martinez, attempted to intervene to maintain calm.
Lionel Messi and his teammates briefly returned to the dressing room as the clashes persisted. Messi was seen expressing, “We’re not playing, we’re leaving.” The teams eventually re-emerged onto the field around 30 minutes later than the scheduled start time.
When the match finally began, the intense pre-match atmosphere spilled onto the field, and Brazil’s Arsenal striker Gabriel Jesus received a yellow card within the first five minutes after a clash with Argentina’s Rodrigo De Paul.