Lionel Messi returned to the iconic Maracana for the first time since Argentina’s Copa America win at the venue in 2021. The revisit was nothing short of emotional, as a brawl broke out in the stands between Argentina fans and police authorities.
Argentina secured a narrow 1-0 historic victory over rival Brazil in the Selecao’s own backyard, marking the third consecutive defeat for the hosts in this World Cup qualification. During the match, Messi walked off the field, raising doubts about whether he picked up an injury.
Messi exits early in Argentina’s clash with Brazil
The World Cup winners, led by the 2023 Ballon d’Or awardee Lionel Messi, bounced back from their previous upset at home against Uruguay. The world champions were held to a 2-0 scoreline, marking their first loss in the World Cup qualifications.
Prior to the clash, both Brazil and Argentina were coming off losses in their last matches. However, for the hosts, Brazil, it was a must-win situation in front of their home fans against arch-rivals Argentina. In an action-packed outing at Maracana on Tuesday, the visitors got the better of the hosts.
The only goal of the match came from SL Benfica defender Nicholas Otamendi, who scored with a header in the 63rd minute of the equally contested clash. Subsequently, Brazil struggled to find ways to level the scoreline, resulting in their first-ever World Cup qualification defeat at home in history.
Another win sees off the defending South American champions, retaining the first place on the World qualifications table with five victories. However, the all-time top scorer in CONMEBOL with a tally of 31 goals failed to score and eventually left the field early in the 77th minute due to injury woes in the right leg, being replaced by compatriot Angel Di Maria.
Fan clashes prompt delay in Brazil-Argentina match
Another controversial and violent event erupted in the match, adding to Brazil’s big upset as they slid down to the 6th place on the Qualification table. A significant disturbance occurred in the stands as a fight broke out among the fans, requiring police intervention to restore order.
After the match, the Argentina captain spoke about the incident, expressing his concern on the matter.
He said, “We saw how they were hitting the people, it already happened in the Libertadores final. They were more focused on that than on the game. We went to the locker room because it was the best way to calm everything down, a tragedy could have happened. This group continues to achieve historic things.“
The incident caused a delay in the kick-off, leading the Argentina team to return to the dressing room until the situation was under control. The game eventually started after a 25-minute delay.