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Messi says violence before Brazil-Argentina clash was close to 'tragedy'
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Rob Ellis
LiveScore
Lionel Messi was concerned by the scenes of violence before Argentina's win in Brazil
Lionel Messi was concerned by the scenes of violence before Argentina's win in Brazil

Argentina captain Lionel Messi has criticised the police treatment of fans at last night's 2026 World Cup qualifier with Brazil.

Violence ahead of the game at the Maracana overshadowed La Albiceleste's 1-0 victory over their South American rivals.

Police charged at visiting supporters causing a 30-minute delay to kick-off.

Inter Miami forward Messi said: "It was bad because we saw how they were beating people.

"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."

Argentina's players asked for police to refrain from confronting visiting supporters
Argentina's players asked for police to refrain from confronting visiting supporters

Brazil captain Marquinhos joined Argentina players on the pitch pleading for a calm resolution.

He added: "We were worried about the families, women and children, that we were seeing in panic up there in the stands.

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

On the field, Nicolas Otamendi netted the only goal of the game after 63 minutes to keep Argentina top of CONMEBOL qualification with 15 points from six games.

Newcastle midfielder Joelinton was sent off for the hosts, who sit sixth in the standings with only seven points.

It was the Selecao's first-ever home defeat in a World Cup qualifier and their third in a row after recent losses to Uruguay and Colombia.

Lionel Scaloni may step down as Argentina coach
Lionel Scaloni may step down as Argentina coach

After the game, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni cast doubt on his future in the role.

The World Cup-winning manager said: "I need to think a lot about what I will do.

"I need this time to think. It is not a goodbye, it is not something else. 

"But I need to think because the bar is set really high and it is tough to go ahead.

"It is tough to continue winning."

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