Brazil head coach Tite blasted the video assistant referee (VAR) and labelled it "inconceivable" that Nicolas Otamendi was not sent off for an elbow in Tuesday's 0-0 2022 World Cup qualifier draw with Argentina.

Raphinha was floored and left bloodied after the 34th-minute incident where Otamendi flailed his arm into the Brazilian midfielder's face.

Otamendi lifted Raphinha to his feet with no sanction from referee Andres Cunha, nor any VAR intervention in the aftermath leaving Tite flabbergasted.

"It's impossible not to see the elbow. Was it decisive in the result? I do not know," Tite said during the post-game news conference.

"Was it a great match for both teams? It was. Great game between them. Tradition, technical quality. Now, there's a component that has to be equal, for those who have the discernment to see.

"But a high-level VAR referee cannot work like this. It is inconceivable, and that is not the term I want to use, but I use it because I am educated."

The result in San Juan leaves already-qualified Brazil six points clear of second-placed Argentina in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying standings.

Argentina officially earned their spot in Qatar one hour after full-time when Chile were beaten 2-0 at home by Ecuador.

Brazil return to action away to Ecuador in late January when CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying resumes.

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni celebrated a "magnificent year" after the Copa America champions qualified for the 2022 World Cup.

Despite a goalless draw at home to already-qualified rivals Brazil, Argentina booked their spot at Qatar 2022 after Colombia, Uruguay and Chile all failed to win in CONMEBOL on Tuesday.

It caps a successful 2021 for two-time world champions Argentina, who ended their 28-year wait for silverware by dethroning Brazil in July's Copa America final.

"This was a magnificent year," Scaloni – who matched Alejandro Sabella for the country's second longest undefeated run in CONMEBOL qualifying amid a 13-game streak, said. "Winning the Copa, qualifying for the World Cup unbeaten. It was a dream."

"We got four points against two very difficult rivals. We all like to win of course but these games help a team to mature. Without a doubt, the balance is positive.

"Having qualified so far in advance, in a really difficult qualifying section, is something we should be proud of."

Lionel Messi returned to the line-up but was unable to inspire Argentina, who played out a stalemate with Brazil in San Juan to extend their unbeaten streak to 27 matches across all competitions.

That underwhelming performance left Argentina waiting to discover their World Cup fate, though La Albiceleste only had to wait less than an hour following 10-man Chile's 2-0 loss at home to Ecuador.

Argentina – searching for their first world crown since 1986 – are second in the CONMEBOL standings with five matches remaining, six points behind leaders Brazil and six clear of third-placed Ecuador.

Eliminated in the last-16 stage at Russia 2018, Argentina and Brazil have both played a game less following September's qualifier in Sao Paulo, which was sensationally abandoned after Scaloni's men left the field as Brazilian health officials tried to detain visiting players due to coronavirus regulations.

After his subdued performance, superstar captain Messi – who missed Paris Saint-Germain's two matches prior to the international break – allayed his fitness concerns.

"I'm fine otherwise I wouldn't have played," Messi said before learning Argentina had qualified after the South American powerhouse made it six games without conceding – their longest streak in qualifying.

"I've been standing for a long time and it's not easy to play a game with as much pace as this one.

"Luckily I'm fine and I know that little by little I'm going to pick up the pace. I hope I can finish the year well."

Canada took a giant stride towards qualifying for their first World Cup since 1986 after Cyle Larin's brace led them to a 2-1 win over rivals Mexico in frosty conditions in Edmonton on Tuesday.

Larin struck either side of half-time, the victory seeing Canada leapfrog the United States and Mexico into top spot in CONCACAF 2022 World Cup qualifying with 16 points from eight games.

The result condemned Mexico to back-to-back qualifying defeats, after Friday's 2-0 loss to USA, leaving El Tri third on 14 points.

USA are second on 15 points following their 1-1 draw in Jamaica earlier on Tuesday.

Canada went ahead on the stroke of half-time when Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa failed to hold Alistair Johnston's long-range effort, with Besiktas forward Larin swooping on the rebound.

Larin doubled Canada's lead in the 52nd minute, cushioning a right-foot volley from Stephen Eustaquio's free-kick.

Mexico pulled a goal back in the 90th minute via Hector Herrera's header, ensuring a frantic finish before Jorge Sanchez squandered a golden opportunity from point-blank range as Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan saved his chested effort.

Argentina qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, despite playing out a goalless draw with CONMEBOL rivals Brazil.

Lionel Messi returned to the line-up but he was unable to inspire Argentina, who played out a stalemate against Qatar-bound Brazil in San Juan on Tuesday.

That underwhelming performance left Copa America champions Argentina waiting to discover their World Cup fate.

Argentina only had to wait less than an hour as 10-man Chile lost 2-0 at home to Ecuador, sealing La Albiceleste's qualification after Colombia and Uruguay also failed to win.

Lionel Scaloni's Argentina – riding a 27-game unbeaten streak – are second in the CONMEBOL standings with five matches remaining, six points behind leaders Brazil and six clear of third-placed Ecuador.

Argentina and Brazil have both played a game less following September's qualifier in Sao Paulo, which was sensationally abandoned after Scaloni's men left the field as Brazilian health officials tried to detain visiting players due to coronavirus regulations.

Having ended their 28-year wait for silverware via July's Copa America, Messi's Argentina will now look to conquer the World Cup.

Two-time champions Argentina – eliminated in the round of 16 at Russia 2018 – have not won the World Cup since Diego Maradona inspired the country to 1986 glory, though they reached the final in 2014.

Argentina and Brazil played out an underwhelming 0-0 draw as the Copa America champions missed the chance to secure World Cup qualification.

Meeting for the first time since September's fixture was sensationally abandoned in Sao Paulo after Argentina left the field as Brazilian health officials tried to detain visiting players, La Albiceleste had the opportunity to earn a trip to Qatar 2022 following Colombia's draw against Paraguay.

However, despite Lionel Messi's return to the starting XI on Tuesday, Argentina were unable to breach CONMEBOL leaders Brazil, who were already assured of a spot at next year's tournament.

Argentina could still qualify on Tuesday if Chile lose to Ecuador later on Tuesday.

Chances were few and far between after a cagey start between Argentina and Brazil in San Juan, where neither goalkeeper was really tested in the opening half as Neymar sat out for the Selecao due to a thigh injury.

However, there was a big moment involving Argentina defender Nicolas Otamendi and Brazil's Raphinha as the game came to life approaching half-time.

Raphinha went down in a heap and was left bleeding after coping a blow from Otamendi, but the former Manchester City centre-back escaped punishment.

Alisson almost gifted Argentina a chance to break the deadlock after failing to catch a cross but Brazil managed to clear their lines, while the Liverpool keeper took a boot to the face minutes before the interval.

Fred went close to making the breakthrough for Brazil on the hour – the ball fell to the Manchester United midfielder on the edge of the box and his volley hit the crossbar.

There was another opening for Brazil with 19 minutes remaining, but Vinicius Junior's effort was straight at Emiliano Martinez.

The United States missed the chance to reinforce their lead at the top of the CONCACAF 2022 World Cup qualifying standings after a 1-1 draw away to Jamaica on Tuesday.

West Ham's Michail Antonio equalised in stunning fashion for Jamaica midway through the first half after Timothy Weah's 11th-minute opener in Kingston.

USA remain top with 15 points from eight games, moving one point clear of Mexico, who play rivals Canada away later on Tuesday, as Jamaica climbed to fifth with seven points.

Lille forward Weah had surged into the left of the box, before firing home the opening goal in off the post from a tight angle.

Antonio netted his second goal in three games 11 minutes later, working his way into space before bending home an unbelievable effort into the top-right corner from 30 yards.

Jamaica's Fulham attacker Bobby Decordova-Reid had the best chance of the second half but inexplicably skied over the bar from close range, while Damion Lowe had a late headed goal disallowed for a push.

Reggae Boy striker Michail Antonio says he is eager for more goals, having opened his account in a draw against El Salvador last week.

The West Ham star, who was making just his second appearance for the Jamaica national team, after switching from England earlier this year, needed only seven minutes to get on the scoresheet against the Central Americans.

Picking up the ball midway the opposition half, Antonio charged into the area before executing a trademark dink over the El Salvador goalkeeper in the 82nd minute.  The Jamaicans were forced to settle for a share of the points after El Salvador struck back in the 90th minute.  Having opened his account, the player is looking for more and hoping to do so against the region’s biggest teams.


It’s always good to get off the mark quite early.  So, you can release all the pressure off yourself and keep going and get more goals.  Hopefully, now that I’ve got one, I can keep going and get more,” Antonio said.

“Right now, my performances are getting better.  So, the only way I can show it is by doing it against the better teams, the USA’s and Canadas.”

Jamaica will play against the United States in a crucial encounter on Tuesday.

Australia were forced to settle for a point in their World Cup qualifier against China after a 1-1 draw in the UAE.

After winning 11 games in a row, including a 3-0 victory against China in the reverse fixture in September, the Socceroos are now winless in three – their worst such run since June 2018.

Australia led in this match, though, following a quiet start, as Martin Boyle's cross was headed in emphatically by Mitch Duke seven minutes before the break.

Despite creating little for the first hour, China were level on 70 minutes when James Jeggo was adjudged by a VAR review to have handled in the penalty area, allowing Wu Lei to send Mat Ryan the wrong way from the spot.

Both sides pushed for a winner in the closing stages, but neither came particularly close to getting it, forced instead to make do with a point apiece.

The draw sees Australia move on to 11 points in Group B in the third round of AFC World Cup qualifying, five behind leaders Saudi Arabia, while China have five points.

David Aganzo was once a teenage strike partner to Raul for Real Madrid in the Champions League, and now the Spaniard has become FIFPro's youngest president.

The 40-year-old head of Spanish players' union AFE, Aganzo takes on the FIFPro post from Philippe Piat, who served two four-year terms as head of the global body.

His appointment was confirmed at FIFPro's general assembly in Paris on Tuesday, after Aganzo was put forward by the executive committee.

It means Aganzo will head up FIFPro for the next four years, leading the body that serves as an international players' union.

He said, quoted on AFE's website: "Without footballers, there is no football, let it be clear to everyone. I take the position with enthusiasm, knowing that it involves a great responsibility.

"The path of union is the one that all associations must follow. Only together and united, with a single voice, will we achieve the goals we set for ourselves. Only together will we achieve the figure of the footballer being respected in the world as it deserves to be, and that our voice is heard with the importance given to footballers to be the most important figures in football, the sport we love so much.

"I am assuming a position that great leaders have held. All my predecessors, with dedication and effort, have strengthened the figure of the footballer over time. My deepest respect to Philippe Piat, a good friend and a leader who in recent years has given FIFPro an important boost."

Aganzo appeared for Madrid in their triumphant 1999-2000 Champions League campaign, playing at the age of 19 in a 1-0 win at Rosenborg in the second group stage after Fernando Morientes was injured ahead of the game. That team also included the likes of Roberto Carlos, Fernando Hierro, Iker Casillas and Steve McManaman.

The young Aganzo made five appearances for Madrid in all, each of them coming in the same season, and later had spells with teams including Espanyol, Racing Santander, Levante and Rayo Vallecano, before wrapping up his playing career with Lugo after a spell in Greece with Aris Thessaloniki, retiring in 2015.

He has been president of AFE since 2017, when he replaced Luis Rubiales, who is now president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

Derby County's total points deduction for 2021-22 has reached 21 and relegation looks a near certainty after the Rams admitted to breaching accounting rules.

The Championship club's financial woes came to a head in September when they filed for administration, which was subsequently followed by a 12-point deduction.

That sent manager Wayne Rooney's men to the foot of the table where they remain, having won once in nine league matches since.

Their points total of six had them nine adrift of safety with 17 matches played, though they will now see that dip below zero once again, with relegation to League One practically assured.

Derby confirmed their appeal against the initial 12-point deduction had been withdrawn, while the new sanction relates to rule breaches in respect to amortisation, the accounting process of gradually writing off the initial cost of a player.

Any future breach of terms of their 2021-22 budget will see a suspended three-point sanction also come into play.

A statement released by the club and the English Football League (EFL) read: "The EFL has today confirmed Derby County has received a nine-point sporting sanction with a further three points suspended after admitting to breaches of the league's profitability and sustainability rules.

"The club, via its administrators, has also agreed, following last week's adjournment, to the dismissal of its appeal against the 12-point deduction imposed as a consequence of the club entering administration in September 2021, meaning that the sanction continues to apply.

"The new nine-point penalty has been applied immediately, resulting in the club having been deducted a total of 21 points from this season's 2021-22 Championship table.

"The suspended three-point deduction will take effect if the club does not comply with the terms of the budget as set out in the 'Agreed Decision' for the remainder of season 2021-22.

"Both decisions are now final and are not subject to any further rights of appeal under EFL regulations."

Rooney, 36, is Manchester United and England's record goalscorer and became manager of Derby, initially on a caretaker basis, in November of last year. He was subsequently appointed to the role on a permanent basis in January.

It appears Raheem Sterling's future is away from Manchester City.

Down the pecking order, Sterling has been linked with Barcelona.

City, however, are believed to want a player as part of any deal.

 

TOP STORY – STERLING OUT, TER STEGEN IN?

Manchester City are interested in a swap deal that could see Raheem Sterling move to Barcelona in exchange for Marc-Andre ter Stegen, according to El Nacional.

Barca are reportedly trying to bring Sterling to Camp Nou, with the England international struggling for regular game time at the Premier League champions.

Pep Guardiola had previously tried to bring Frenkie de Jong to Manchester but Barca were not keen, though the City manager is now interested in goalkeeper Ter Stegen – who has been linked with Bayern Munich in the past.

 

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid plan to extend Luka Modric's contract for one more season, reports Marca. The 36-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season. He has previously been linked with Milan and Inter.

- Diario AS claims Barcelona are eyeing a move for Spain and Chelsea star Cesar Azpilicueta. The 32-year-old is out of contract at season's end.

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims Milan are accelerating their efforts to sign Lille and Portugal star Renato Sanches. It comes amid uncertainty over soon-to-be free agent Franck Kessie, who is tipped to leave Milan following reported interest from the likes of Manchester UnitedBarcaParis Saint-GermainTottenham and Inter. Sanches has also been suggested as a target for Liverpool and Wolves.

- Calciomercato claims CityLiverpoolJuventus and Roma are targeting Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Denis Zakaria.

- Serie A champions Inter are pushing to sign Eintracht Frankfurt's Filip Kostic, per Gazzetta dello sport. Inter tried to prise the winger from Eintracht at the start of the season.

Netherlands head coach Louis van Gaal insisted his "brain still works" following a bike accident left him temporarily in a wheelchair.

Van Gaal suffered a hip injury after falling off his bicycle on Sunday and oversaw Monday's training session from a golf buggy ahead of the Netherlands' crucial World Cup qualifier against Norway.

The Netherlands require at least a draw from their Group G decider on Tuesday to clinch a berth at Qatar 2022.

Van Gaal, who will be able to coach his nation when the Netherlands and Norway clash in Rotterdam, was keen to stress his brain remains intact following the incident.

"Physically, I'm bad. But my brain still works," former Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Barcelona boss Van Gaal told reporters via video link.

Asked if it hurt a lot, Van Gaal replied: "Yes, a lot. That's why I'm in a wheelchair. That's why I led the training session from my buggy.

"Look, it's the lesser trochanter, that’s a bone, and that's broken. And the iliopsoas, that’s a muscle, is attached to that. That's a stabilising muscle. I hope you can all understand what I'm saying.

"I had to learn about every single bone in the human body when I used to study for gymnastics teacher. That comes in handy now."

"I can do everything, because my brain works. There are things I can use, such as that buggy and my wheelchair. I look stupid, I know that too," the 70-year-old added. "But coaching is verbal, and you use your brain to do so. And the presentation has to convince the squad."

Netherlands star Virgil van Dijk added: "It's just sad and unfortunate for him. He now has to recover the next weeks.

"It's a physical thing, luckily it's not mental. He is still focused on reaching the World Cup, like we all are."

The Netherlands missed the chance to seal qualification for the 2022 World Cup as Montenegro produced a late comeback to snatch a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

Memphis Depay had Group G leaders the Netherlands on track before Montenegro overturned the two-goal deficit.

The Netherlands will now look to clinch against a Norway side missing injured superstar Erling Haaland.

Van Gaal acknowledged Haaland's absence changes the dynamic of the fixture.

"Haaland has the quality to always show up behind a defence," Van Gaal said. "He also did so in their home game against us, three of four times. That were also their only chances.

"Now, they'll have to find another solution. At least, that's what they'll be trying to do. But Haaland has specific qualities that they'll miss now. We can, in principal, play a bit further from our own goal now too."

Dani Alves said wearing the Barcelona jersey makes him feel like a "superhero" after returning to Camp Nou as he tries to "rescue" the club.

Alves is back at embattled LaLiga powerhouse Barca for a second spell following his departure from Brazilian giants Sao Paulo.

The 38-year-old Brazilian full-back, who signed a deal until the end of the season but will not be eligible to play until January, left Barca five and a half years ago.

Alves made 247 appearances for Barca after arriving from Sevilla in 2008, winning six LaLiga titles and three Champions League crowns among 23 honours.

"There are two shirts I wear that make me feel like a superhero: the Brazil shirt and the Barcelona shirt," Alves told Barca TV.

"So putting that shirt back on will give me an extra strength, an extra adrenaline rush and I hope that I can transmit that to my team-mates."

 

Alves is Xavi's first signing after the club great was appointed to replace Ronald Koeman prior to the international break.

Debts of more than €1.2billion meant the Blaugrana could not afford to sign Lionel Messi to a new contract or make any significant investment in the playing squad before this season, and results on the pitch have been concerning: they are ninth in LaLiga, having won only four of their first 11 games.

Barca capitulated against Celta Vigo, squandering a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 in dramatic fashion on November 6.

The match at Celta saw Barca surrender a three-goal advantage in a LaLiga game for the first time since January 1998, against Valencia at Camp Nou in a 4-3 defeat.

Alves added: "Well, [I'm] still in a state of shock, because I've been trying to come back for a long time.

"I tried to come back twice…I don't know. And now, returning to work with people who know who I am, who know all of my characteristics – not only on the pitch, but off it too – is both a pleasure and a privilege. And as I said, I will also try to rescue Barca, a club that we all love very much, one that we all know.

"It is clear that we are in a process [of renewal], but that process must be accelerated, because at the end of the day we are at Barca.

"At Barca there is no margin [for error], there is not much margin to make mistakes. And maybe this is a great opportunity [to help once more]."

Neymar will miss his meeting with Lionel Messi after being ruled out of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier against Argentina due to an adductor injury, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) announced.

Brazil – already assured of a Qatar 2022 berth – will meet Argentina in San Juan on Tuesday, with a win for Messi's men all but guaranteeing World Cup qualification.

After coming off the bench against Uruguay last time out, Messi will definitely play a part for Copa America champions Argentina, according to head coach Lionel Scaloni.

However, Brazil superstar and Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar – who teed up Lucas Paqueta for the winning goal against Colombia – will not be involved because of a thigh injury.

"After training at the Palmeiras Football Academy this Monday morning, athlete Neymar Jr. complained of pain in the adductor region of his left thigh," the CBF said.

"Neymar Jr. reported insecurity with the situation and because there was not enough time to carry out complementary exams, the technical committee chose to preserve the player, who will not travel with the Brazilian team's delegation to San Juan, location of Tuesday's game against Argentina."

Brazil and Argentina will meet for the first time since September's World Cup qualifier was sensationally abandoned in Sao Paulo.

The top-of-the-table fixture was halted following an apparent breach of coronavirus regulations, Argentina naming three Premier League players in their starting line-up – Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and Tottenham pair Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso – amid travel restrictions.

Despite the rulings, Martinez, Romero and Lo Celso were all starters for Argentina, with Brazilian health officials quickly acting by entering the pitch shortly after the match had started.

A subsequent melee ensued, and the visitors eventually left the field and did not return, Brazil playing out a training fixture among one another.

Looking ahead to Tuesday's showdown, Brazil head coach Tite told reporters: "It is hard to get the dimension of it. I don’t know how it was from the Argentinian side of it. Everything that happened. I am sorry about the fact that the match didn't happen.

"But now we have all the facts and understand why it didn't happen. I have all this very clear: before football, health is more important, laws exist and the correction of the facts. All these happened. I don't know how they face this situation because it is very particular.

"I can say that Brazil v Argentina is a huge match. Historically, it is huge. A lot of quality on both sides. The two best campaigns, a lot of technical quality individually from both teams."

Roberto Mancini is "completely confident" Italy can rediscover their cutting edge and seal a 2022 World Cup spot after a goalless draw with Northern Ireland denied them automatic qualification.

The European champions went into their final Group C match at Windsor Park on Monday top on goal difference ahead of Switzerland.

But Northern Ireland did the Swiss a huge favour, frustrating an Azzurri side that could not find a way past goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

Switzerland had no such trouble as they thrashed Bulgaria 4-0 to move ahead of Italy and secure their place in the tournament in Qatar next year.

Italy only hit the target with half of their 12 shots and ought to have been consigned to defeat when Conor Washington spurned a great chance in the closing stages, Leonardo Bonucci clearing off the line to preserve a sixth clean sheet of the campaign. No other European team have conceded fewer than their two goals.

The Azzurri must get through a play-off semi-final and final to avoid missing out on a second consecutive World Cup, but Mancini believes they will get the job done in March.

He said: "Despite controlling matches, we're struggling to score goals at the moment. We needed to score early on tonight. It's a shame because we should have finished things off sooner in this group.

"We need to rediscover what has set us apart until now and remain completely calm until March.

"We should have won against Bulgaria and had two penalties against Switzerland. These are games that could have finished in our favour. I'm completely confident about the play-offs."

Since beating England on penalties in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley, Mancini's side have won just two of their seven fixtures, with only one of those victories coming in qualifying.

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