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Argentina defeat Brazil 1-0 in 2026 World Cup qualifier

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Argentina defeated Brazil 1-0 on Tuesday in an ill-tempered 2026 World Cup qualifying clash marred by pre-match crowd trouble that forced kick-off to be delayed.

A 63rd-minute header from veteran defender Nicolas Otamendi secured victory for Argentina as the world champions bounced back from last week’s defeat to Uruguay to beat their bitter South American rivals.

The win at Rio’s iconic Maracana Stadium leaves Argentina on top of the South American qualifying standings with 15 points from six games.

Brazil’s third defeat of qualifying, meanwhile, leaves the five-time world champions in sixth place with seven points from six games.

Tempers had flared in the stands at the Maracana moments before kick-off, with Brazilian police seen using batons to drive back a block of Argentine fans at one end of the ground.

Several Argentina players went towards the disturbances in an apparent attempt to plead for calm, with goalkeeper Emi Martinez attempting to jump into the seating area at one stage to confront a baton-wielding Brazilian police officer.

Argentina’s players led by Lionel Messi then returned to their dressing room as the clashes continued, with Messi appearing to say: “We’re not playing, we’re leaving.”

The 2022 World Cup winners re-emerged onto the field shortly before 10pm local time and the match kicked off shortly afterwards, roughly 30 minutes later than the scheduled start time.

The febrile pre-match atmosphere spilled onto the field when play finally got under way, with Brazi’s Arsenal striker Gabriel Jesus being given a yellow card after just five minutes after clashing with Argentina’s Rodrigo De Paul.

AFP

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