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Argentina fans were beaten by baton-wielding police officers before kick-off in their win over rivals Brazil at the Maracana Stadium. Nicolas Otamendi scored the game's only goal to hand Argentina a narrow victory but the match was overshadowed by brutal violence in the stands, which saw Lionel Messi lead his players off the pitch just moments before it was due to get underway.
Fighting broke out in the stands during the national anthems, prompting Brazilian police to charge a section of Argentina fans behind the goal. Disturbing footage on social media from Sportv shows people being hit with large batons while missiles such as ripped out seats were thrown at the police by other fans.
Another clip shows a man lying on a stretcher with blood pouring from his head as Messi and his fellow Argentina players watched helplessly. Fans continued to launch objects in the direction of the charging police while those at the front were pushed back as they tried to avoid being hit with batons.
Other clips show that people ventured onto the pitch in a bid to escape the fighting, with some of those in the stands visibly injured as a result of the violence. A man was also seen crying in the stands while a number of Argentina players went over to the fans as they tried to calm the situation.
Messi looked furious and eventually led his players down the tunnel just moments before the match was supposed to kick off as the Brazil squad and the referee stayed on the pitch. The game ended up starting 30 minutes behind schedule after the fighting had died down, with Argentina snatching a narrow win thanks to Otamendi's second-half header.
In his post-match interview, Messi hit out at the Brazilian police for their heavy-handedness and explained that he chose to lead the players off the pitch in a desperate attempt to calm things down.
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"It was bad because we saw how they were beating people," he said. "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.
"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."
Brazil defender Marquinhos, who was seen interacting with Messi and Argentina's players as they tried to call for calm, said: "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."