Brazil v Argentina: Holy water and the Hand of God - dramatic matches from an iconic rivalry

By Sports Desk July 02, 2019

Brazil and Argentina will renew one of the most iconic rivalries in world football when they meet in the Copa America semi-finals on Tuesday.

A place in the showpiece will be on the line when they do battle at the Mineirao, the site of Brazil's 7-1 humiliation at the hands of Germany when they last hosted a major international tournament – the 2014 World Cup.

The Selecao will be keen to vanquish the darkest moment in their recent history by triumphing, while Argentina are hoping Lionel Messi can finally end their 26-year wait for silverware by leading them to glory in Brazil.

We recount some of the greatest and most controversial meetings between the South American powerhouses.

 

Argentina 1 Brazil 3 - 1982 World Cup second group stage

Tele Santana's side are remembered as the greatest team to never win the World Cup, but they did score a particularly impressive victory over Argentina.

Zico stabbed home after Eder's free-kick crashed down off the crossbar, before Serginho nodded Falcao's cross past Ubaldo Fillol and defender Junior slotted in off a brilliant throughball from Zico in the 75th minute.

It was all too much for Diego Maradona, who was shown a red card for a wild lunge on Batista in the closing stages.

Ramon Diaz pulled one back, but Brazil gained a degree of vengeance after Argentina's controversial 6-0 win over Peru saw La Albiceleste get to the final at their expense four year's prior.

 

Argentina 1 Brazil 0 – 1990 World Cup last 16

The Selecao were on top throughout in Turin but were denied by the frame of the goal on three separate occasions and Argentina took advantage.

Maradona burst past Alemao in the centre circle and surged forward, drawing three defenders towards him and sliding a pass to Claudio Caniggia. The striker rounded Taffarel and fired in an 80th-minute winner to stun Sebastiao Lazaroni's men.

However, controversy reigned days later when it was alleged that Brazil midfielder Branco was handed spiked 'holy water' by Argentina's physio during a break in play shortly before Caniggia's winner.

It remains a bone of contention between the two nations and the animosity was revived in 2005 when Argentina's coach at the competition Carlos Bilardo said: "I'm not saying it didn't happen."

 

Argentina 3 Brazil 2 – 1991 Copa America second group stage

This was undoubtedly one of their most chaotic meetings, with five goals and as many red cards.

Brazil touched the ball just once before Dario Franco headed Argentina ahead in the opening minute, but a stunning free-kick from Branco quickly levelled things up.

Caniggia and Mazinho were dismissed following a 31st-minute altercation and Argentina forged into a 3-1 lead through Franco and Gabriel Batistuta.

Joao Paulo reduced the deficit for Brazil, but Carlos Enrique, Marcio Santos and Careca were all given their marching orders before the final whistle and Argentina went on to claim the title.

 

Brazil 2 Argentina 2 (4-2 on penalties) – 1995 Copa America quarter-finals

It was the world champions against the Copa holders and it proved to be another controversial chapter in their incredible rivalry.

Brazil responded well to seeing Abel Balbo fire in a second-minute opener, as Roberto Carlos whipped in a low cross for Edmundo to slot home.

Batistuta launched a powerful drive through Taffarel at his near post to restore Argentina's advantage, but Leonardo Astrada was dismissed for wiping out Savio before half-time.

Juan Jose Borrelli, Diego Simeone and Nestor Fabbri could all have seen red too as Argentina looked to keep Brazil at bay, but their resistance was broken when substitute Tulio brought down Jorginho's cross with his arm and dinked past Hernan Cristante.

Daniel Passarella had already been removed from the dugout but returned to the pitch at full-time to remonstrate with referee Alberto Tejada over what was branded the 'Hand of God' - a reference to Maradona's infamous first strike against England at the 1986 World Cup - before witnessing his side lose on penalties.

 

Argentina 0 Brazil 3 – 2007 Copa America final

This was the first of Messi's four painful final defeats with Argentina.

Julio Baptista fired Brazil into a fourth-minute lead with a searing drive into the top-right corner and, after Juan Roman Riquelme rifled against the post, Roberto Ayala inexplicably guided Dani Alves' cross into the back of his own net.

The win was beyond doubt when Alves brilliantly picked out the far corner from Vagner Love's pass.

Brazil ensured Argentina's wait for a first senior title since the 1993 Copa America continued, and that barren run remains ongoing.

 

Argentina 4 Brazil 3 – 2012 friendly

It may not have been a competitive match, but it was one in which Messi showed he is capable of anything on his day.

The crowd at MetLife Stadium were treated to one of the Barcelona superstar's greatest international displays, which he began by sending Gonzalo Higuain's pass beyond Rafael to cancel out Romulo's opener.

He rounded the Brazil keeper off a throughball from Angel Di Maria three minutes later to double his tally, but Oscar and Hulk got Brazil back in front by the 72nd minute.

Federico Fernandez restored parity and Messi sealed the win in trademark fashion five minutes from time.

He picked up the ball on the right wing and beat Marcelo before angling towards the box. Juan Jesus stepped out to challenge him, but Messi sidestepped him and curled an exquisite 20-yard effort into the top-left corner to spark delirious celebrations on the Argentina bench.

Red cards for Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marcelo in stoppage time did little to overshadow a magnificent display from Messi.

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