Rio de Janeiro, Nov 22, 2023, IANS
Brazil’s distinction of having never lost a home FIFA World Cup qualifier was abolished by their fiercest rivals Argentina as Lionel Scaloni's side defeated Brazil 1-0 in the FIFA 2026 World Cup South American Qualifiers at the legendary Maracana stadium.
Nicolas Otamendi’s thumping header proved the difference in an ill-tempered clash in which Joelinton was sent off. It kept Argentina in pole position and dropped the Brazil, with just one point from their last four outings, to sixth.
Brazil began the match with the intention of being the owner of the ball, but the home team permanently interrupted the game with infractions and high pressure. Dangerous situations did not appear and the approaches faded quickly during the first half hour.
A Raphinha free kick sent Emiliano Martinez flying for the first time in the 38th minute, although the shot went over the crossbar.
With De Paul and Lo Celso as drivers, Argentina tried to break Brazil's defensive block, but without achieving enough depth to worry Alisson.
At the end of the first half, Martinelli was able to break the deadlock with a shot from the edge of the area, but Cristian Romero saved the Argentine goal on the line. Therefore, both teams went into halftime without a goal.
In the second half, the match started favourably for the Brazilian team. During the first few minutes they advanced lines and had a clear action on Martinelli's feet that Dibu Martínez managed to contain.
But the big blow was going to come in the 63rd minute of play with a corner from the left: Lo Celso executed the cross and Otamendi won perfectly from above and, with an accurate header, made things 1-0.
With the result in their favor, Argentina managed to neutralize the rival's game and did not experience any major upsets.
Brazil was the only team in the entire history of the South American World Cup Qualifiers that had never lost at home until Tuesday's match, in which the Argentina took away that undefeated record of 65 games without defeats as a host after beating them 1-0.
Throughout the Qualifiers, the Brazilians played 65 home games, of which they won 52 and only tied 13, plus Tuesday's defeat.
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