Emi Martinez had to be held back by team-mates as he tried to defend Argentina fans from baton-wielding Brazilian police.

The South American World Cup qualifier was held up by half an hour after trouble flared in the stands during the national anthems at Rio’s Maracana. Video and pictures soon emerged of Brazilian police charging Argentina fans and clobbering them with batons.

The appalling scenes led to several supporters being left injured while both children and adults were spotted in tears as the distressing scenes unfolded. Concerned Argentina players, including Aston Villa’s Martinez and skipper Lionel Messi, went over to the section to appeal for calm.

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Martinez even attempted to leap into the stand at one point in bid to protect the travelling fans from the carnage. The 31-year-old had to be retrained by team-mates as he tried to remonstrate with police before the players retreated to the dressing rooms.

There were happier scenes for Argentina and their fans as the world champions inflicted a third successive defeat and a first-ever home loss on Brazil in World Cup qualifying. Former Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi scored the only goal with a 63rd-minute header.

What do you think of the scenes? Tell us in the comments section below

Emi Martinez and his Argentina team-mates try to defend fans as trouble flares ahead of the World Cup qualifier against Brazil
Emi Martinez and his Argentina team-mates try to defend fans as trouble flares ahead of the World Cup qualifier against Brazil

A bad night for Brazil got even worse when Joelinton was sent off in bizarre circumstances as he tried to fend off Rodrigo De Paul, who had been holding the Newcastle midfielder.

Messi addressed the crowd trouble after the game, saying: “Obviously, at the beginning it was bad because we saw how they were beating people. You think about the family, the people who are there, who don’t know what’s going on and we are more concerned about that than playing a match. At that point the match was secondary.”

The result left Argentina two points clear at the top of the South American table with five wins from six games. Brazil, meanwhile, are facing a battle to qualify for the 2026 World Cup as they languish down in sixth spot.