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Argentina hand Brazil first-ever home loss in World Cup qualifying

Nicolas Otamendi scored with a towering header to give Argentina a 1-0 away victory over Brazil in a bad-tempered World Cup qualifier that was delayed by half an hour on Tuesday after police clashed with fans at Maracana Stadium.

It was Brazil’s first-ever home loss in a World Cup qualifier, having entered the match 51-13-0 in 64 such matches.

Defender Otamendi scored from a Giovani Lo Celso corner in the 63rd minute with Argentina’s only shot on target and Brazil’s misery was compounded when midfielder Joelinton was sent off after a clash with Rodrigo De Paul in the 82nd minute.

The world champions handed their fiercest rivals a third consecutive loss as Brazil came into the match having conceded back-to-back defeats in World Cup qualifiers for the first time in their history.

Lionel Messi started in what was likely his last match in Brazil, but was substituted in the 78th minute amid a mixture of jeers and applause from Brazilian fans.

The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner wasn’t able to end one of his last barriers in the sport at the Maracana, though, having now failed to score in all five World Cup qualifiers he has played versus Brazil.

Argentina top the standings on 15 points with Brazil eight points behind in sixth place, the last spot that guarantees a berth at the 2026 finals.

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