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Otamendi's Header Secures Argentina's 1-0 Win Over Brazil in Turbulent Qualifier

 Otamendi's Header Secures Argentina's 1-0 Win Over Brazil in Turbulent Qualifier

Nicolás Otamendi (R) celebrates
Nicolás Otamendi (R) celebrates with his teammate Enzo Fernández after scoring the team's first goal during FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier match between Brazil and Argentina at Maracana Stadium on November 21, 2023 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.(Image-Getty) 

Nicolas Otamendi's towering header secured a 1-0 away win for Argentina over Brazil in a tumultuous World Cup qualifier at Maracana Stadium. The match was delayed by half an hour due to clashes between police and fans. The altercation unfolded after Brazilian police charged Argentine fans in response to fighting during the national anthems.

Led by captain Lionel Messi, the Argentine team intervened to calm the situation, leaving the pitch temporarily. The match eventually resumed amid fervent support for Brazil, who aimed to recover from two consecutive qualifying defeats.

Brazil's hopes were dashed as they suffered their first-ever home loss in a World Cup qualifier, standing sixth in the standings. Argentina, in the lead, secured a crucial victory.

Messi expressed concern about the pre-match violence but emphasized the significance of the win. He stated, "After that, winning this game like this I think is one of the most important wins that this group has achieved."

The intense first half featured numerous fouls, bookings, and skirmishes. Brazil, despite missing key players, dominated the play, with Argentina's Otamendi scoring the decisive goal in the 63rd minute from a corner.

Brazil's frustrations escalated when substitute Joelinton was sent off in the 82nd minute. The Brazilian fans, discontented, chanted "Ole! Ole! Ole!" as Argentina controlled possession in the final minutes.

The post-match atmosphere turned from celebration to uncertainty as Argentina's manager, Lionel Scaloni, admitted contemplating stepping down. "Argentina needs a coach who has all the energy possible," Scaloni remarked, expressing the need for reflection on his future.

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