Lionel Messi shocked by the police and fan violence during the World Cup qualifier against Brazil
In the World Cup qualifier at Rio de Janeiro's iconic Maracana, football superstar Lionel Messi took center stage as chaos unfolded between police and fans ahead of the Argentina vs Brazil showdown.
Lionel Messi shocked as police use batons on Argentina fans in World Cup Qualifier against Brazil. Messi led his teammates into the tunnel after violent clashes erupted between the police and fans before kick-off. In an intense World Cup qualifier at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana, World Champions Argentina narrowly defeated rivals Brazil 1-0. The match, scheduled to start at 9:30 pm local time (00:30 GMT Wednesday), was delayed by approximately 30 minutes due to clashes among supporters. Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez attempted to intervene in the stands to confront a baton-wielding Brazilian police officer.
Several Argentina players approached the disturbances, seemingly trying to urge for calm. Eventually, captain Lionel Messi guided his teammates into the tunnel.
While leaving the pitch, Messi was heard saying, "We're not playing, we're leaving."
Messi also engaged in a verbal exchange with Brazil winger Rodrygo Goes, who appeared to label the Argentina players as "cowards."
In the first half, three Brazil players received yellow cards, and Joelinton was shown a straight red card for an off-the-ball clash with Argentina midfielder Rodrigo De Paul, with Brazil already trailing 0-1.
Argentina took the lead in the 63rd minute when defender Nicolas Otamendi headed home from Giovani Lo Celso's corner.
After the match, Messi explained that he led his teammates off the field to diffuse the tense 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," Messi stated.
This victory marked Argentina's first in a World Cup qualifier on Brazilian soil, while the loss left five-time champions Brazil in sixth place with seven points from six games.
Both Brazil and Argentina entered the game following defeats against Colombia (2-1) and Uruguay (2-0), respectively.