Argentina captain Lionel Messi has described the moment he and his team-mates tried to intervene in the crowd trouble that ensued in his side's clash with Brazil in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Rivalries were renewed once more as the two historic national teams did battle in the World Cup qualifiers.
However, during the part reserved for the national anthems, fights broke out in the crowd as police started to charge the Argentina fans with batons. Distressing scenes followed, with some spectators forced to flee onto the pitch and the surrounding areas to avoid being hit.
Some fans were seen ripping out seats and throwing them, while others were hit by police despite seemingly backing away from the incident. This sparked the players to move towards the fans to try and mediate the situation, with goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez even seemingly reaching to stop a police baton from hitting someone.
The World Cup winners decided to move to the dressing room, where they would stay for another ten minutes before returning to the pitch after scenes had calmed down. Following a 30-minute delay, the game was finally underway and it was a tense affair with a few opportunities each.
Brazil had a trio of Arsenal stars as Gabriel Magalhaes, Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli all started, with the latter having a shot blocked on the line by Tottenham's Cristian Romero. The Argentinian centre-back paired up with Enzo Fernandez for one of the first times since his red card for a challenge on the Chelsea midfielder.
The match was relatively even until the deadlock was broken by former Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi, who towered over the rest to head home the opener. Tensions flared late on as Newcastle's Joelinton was shown a straight red for hitting Rodrigo De Paul.
It ended 1-0 to Argentina as the group that were crowned world champions almost one-year ago continue to impress. Captain Messi gave his thoughts on the game, but returned to those scenes at the start as he told journalists: "The truth is that this group continues to achieve historic things, once again.
"Obviously, at the beginning it was bad because we saw how they were beating people. You think about the family, the people who are there, who don’t know what’s going on and we are more concerned about that than playing a match. At that point the match was secondary.
"After that, winning this game like this I think is one of the most important wins that this group has achieved. It is something very nice to be able to win here in Brazil, after how strong they have been at home throughout their history."
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