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Violent Clashes Rock Brazil Versus Argentina World Cup Qualifier

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Argentina’s captain Lionel Messi accused the Brazilian police of brutality as their World Cup qualifying match against Brazil was postponed by thirty minutes following altercations between police and visiting fans at Maracana Stadium on Tuesday.

During the national anthems, a brawl broke out between Brazilian and Argentinean supporters behind one of the goals, which prompted police to charge at the visiting team brandishing nightsticks.

As other fans fled the fighting onto the pitch in fear, some Argentina supporters retaliated by tearing up and throwing seats at the police.

Before being carried from the stadium on a stretcher, one Argentina supporter lay on the field with his face covered in blood.

After leaving the field and heading back to the dressing room, Messi and the Argentina squad went over to the terraces in an attempt to diffuse the tension.

“It was bad because we saw how they were beating people … The police, as it already happened in the Libertadores final, were once again repressing the people with night sticks, there were players who had families over there,” Messi said in a pitchside television interview.

“We went to the locker room because it was the best way to calm everything down, it could have ended in tragedy.

“You think about the families, the people who are there, who don’t know what’s going on and we were more concerned about that than playing a match that, at that point, was of secondary importance.”

The worries were expressed by Brazil captain Marquinhos, who was seen calming things down with Messi and the Argentine players.

“We were worried about the families, women and children, that we were seeing in panic up there in the stands,” Marquinhos told reporters.

“Down on the pitch it was hard for us to understand what was going on, it was a very scary situation.”

Before this month’s Copa Libertadores final between the two teams, there were violent altercations in Rio de Janeiro between supporters of Argentina’s Boca Juniors and Brazil’s Fluminense.

After the match was delayed for a long time and police contained the visiting fans in a pen, the Argentina players eventually made their way back on Tuesday.

Argentina defeated their fiercest rivals 1-0 thanks to a headed goal by defender Nicolas Otamendi in the 63rd minute. The victory was celebrated in front of the supporters at the same end of the stadium where the trouble had occurred.

Five-time World Cup winners Brazil suffered their third straight loss, with midfielder Joelinton being sent off eighteen minutes from the end.

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