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thunderous header by Nicolas Otamendi saw Argentina win a physical clash at the Maracana with rivals Brazil, keeping the Albiceleste atop the 2026 World Cup qualifying standings.

Yet that was nothing more than subtext for the overall narrative of the match, which was delayed by half an hour for violent clashes in the stands. The animosity transferred to the pitch across the 90 minutes, as Argentina and Brazil played to a foul fest with few chances.

Gabriel Martinelli came up empty with Brazil’s best opportunity of the match, firing a shot right at Emiliano Martinez just after halftime, and that would prove vital as Otamendi’s towering header off a corner past the hour mark was enough to see out the three points.

Brazil played wildly out of control for much of the game, whistled for an enormous 25 fouls throughout the match, but it felt harsh when Joelinton was sent off with eight minutes to go, as Rodrigo de Paul conned the referee with a blatant flop.

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