Messi’s Argentina beats Brazil in a World Cup qualifying game

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By LatAm Reports Editor

In a dramatic encounter, Lionel Messi’s Argentina team clinched a 1-0 victory against their long-standing rival, Brazil, in a World Cup qualifying match. This historic match, marked by crowd violence, saw Argentina’s Nicolás Otamendi score the only goal, handing Brazil their first-ever home defeat in World Cup qualifying. The game at the Maracana was delayed due to a brawl among fans, adding tension to the already high-stakes match.

This defeat represents Brazil’s third consecutive loss in the tournament and poses a significant challenge for their new coach, Fernando Diniz. It was also a rare occasion since 2009 where the five-time World Cup champions failed to score in a home game. Messi, who played until the 78th minute, received mixed reactions from Brazilian fans, with many wearing shirts of Barcelona and Inter Miami to honor his illustrious career.

Despite Messi not scoring, Argentina’s jubilation was palpable as they led the South American qualifying standings. This victory at the Maracana was particularly symbolic, coming two years after Ángel di Maria’s goal secured them the Copa America title in the same venue.

The match’s start was delayed by 27 minutes following violent incidents among spectators, leading to several arrests. The on-field tension mirrored the stands, with Brazil incurring multiple fouls in the opening 20 minutes. However, the game eventually settled, allowing Argentina to strategically avoid direct confrontation.

Brazil missed several scoring opportunities, including a free kick by Raphinha and a near-goal line save by Argentina’s Cristian Romero. Argentina’s decisive moment came in the 63rd minute when Otamendi headed in a goal from a corner kick. Despite Brazil’s persistent pressure, including a close-range save by Argentina’s goalkeeper Dibu Martinez, they failed to equalize.

The match also saw the ejection of Brazil’s midfielder Joelinton for aggression, adding to the intense atmosphere. Argentina’s fans celebrated each touch of the ball with chants, while Brazilian supporters expressed their disappointment.

In the standings, Argentina leads with 15 points from six matches, followed by Uruguay and Colombia. Venezuela and Ecuador follow, while Brazil sits in sixth place with seven points. The upcoming 2026 World Cup, set to be hosted by the United States, Mexico, and Canada, will see the top six South American teams gain direct entry, with a seventh-place team having a chance through an intercontinental playoff.