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Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus missed an open goal before being carried off on a stretcher as Brazil lost to Argentina in Melbourne.

Argentina came out on top as Gabriel Mercardo’s strike on the stroke of half-time gave Jorge Sampaoli the perfect start to his tenure in a fiercely-contested friendly.

Jesus had a glorious chance to restore parity in the second half as he rounded  Sergio Romero only for his effort to come back off the post before the City star was replaced in stoppage time following a knock to the face. 

Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus missed an open goal as Brazil lost to Argentina

Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus missed an open goal as Brazil lost to Argentina

Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus missed an open goal as Brazil lost to Argentina

Jesus impressed for Brazil against Argentina but he won't want to watch his sitter back

Jesus impressed for Brazil against Argentina but he won't want to watch his sitter back

Jesus impressed for Brazil against Argentina but he won’t want to watch his sitter back

Argentina took the lead on the stroke of half-time through Sevilla defender Gabriel Mercado

Argentina took the lead on the stroke of half-time through Sevilla defender Gabriel Mercado

Argentina took the lead on the stroke of half-time through Sevilla defender Gabriel Mercado

Mercardo was on hand to prod into the empty net after Nicolas Otamendi's header his the post

Mercardo was on hand to prod into the empty net after Nicolas Otamendi's header his the post

Mercardo was on hand to prod into the empty net after Nicolas Otamendi’s header his the post

Close to a capacity crowd watched South America's biggest footballing nations do battle

Close to a capacity crowd watched South America's biggest footballing nations do battle

Close to a capacity crowd watched South America’s biggest footballing nations do battle

MATCH FACTS 

BRAZIL (4-1-4-1): Weverton; Fagner (Rafinha 73), Silva (c), Gil, F.Luis; Paulinho (Guiliano 81), Fernandinho, Augusto (Douglas Costa 67); Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus (Taison 90), Willian

UNUSED SUBS: Diego Alves, Jemerson, Ederson, Rodrigo Caio, Andrade, David Luiz, Alex Sandro, Marinho

BOOKED: Paulinho, Rafinha 

MANAGER: Tite 

ARGENTINA (3-4-2-1): Romero, Maidana, Otamendi, Mercado (Mammana 75), Gomez (Tagliafico 53), Banega (Lanzini 81), Biglia, Messi, Dybala (Rodriguez 69), Di Maria (Acuna 94), Higuain (Correa 46)

UNUSED SUBS: Alario, Maksimovic, Fernandez, Guzman, Fazio, Salvio, Icardi, Rulli, Gomez

GOAL: Mercardo 45

BOOKED: Maidana

MANAGER: Jorge Sampaoli 

ATTENDANCE: 95,569 

Mercardo struck in the 45th minute after Nicolas Otamendi’s header came back off the post, and Brazil were unable to respond in the second half despite Willian and Jesus hitting the post.

Over 95,000 fans attended the game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, with Lionel Messi among the stars to take to the field for the glamour friendly following a long season with Barcelona.

There was a strong Premier League contingent on show as Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho joined Chelsea winger Willian in starting for Brazil while Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus was in attack.

Manchester City’s new £35million signing Ederson took his place on the Brazil bench, with Tite’s side facing Australia on Tuesday as part of their tour Down Under. 

Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero started for Argentina with City defneder Nicolas Otamendi taking his place in the centre of defence.

Messi was selected alongside Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain in attack with West Ham forward Manuel Lanzini taking his place on the substitutes’ bench.

Brazil captain Thiago Silva and Argentina skipper Lionel Messi leads the sides onto the pitch

Brazil captain Thiago Silva and Argentina skipper Lionel Messi leads the sides onto the pitch

Brazil captain Thiago Silva and Argentina skipper Lionel Messi leads the sides onto the pitch

Messi looks to hold off Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus during the opening 45 minutes

Messi looks to hold off Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus during the opening 45 minutes

Messi looks to hold off Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus during the opening 45 minutes

The two sides were soon locked in battle as Paulinho confronted Argentina's Angel Di Maria

The two sides were soon locked in battle as Paulinho confronted Argentina's Angel Di Maria

The two sides were soon locked in battle as Paulinho confronted Argentina’s Angel Di Maria

Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho gets on the ball during the first half in Melbourne

Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho gets on the ball during the first half in Melbourne

Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho gets on the ball during the first half in Melbourne

A crowd of 95,569 fans filled the stadium for the glamorous friendly on Friday, as Australia became the nineteenth different country have hosted these countries.

Both sides were keen to put on a show for the crowd, who were quickly treated to glimpses of star quality as Angel Di Maria struck a post in the early stages. 

Philippe Coutinho came closest to giving Brazil the lead in the opening 20 minutes, with the Liverpool playmaker denied by a last-gasp challenge from Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi.

Argentina took the lead on the stroke of half-time as Di Maria’s cross was headed onto the post by Otamendi, only former Sevilla defender Gabriel Mercado to prod into the roof of the net from close range.

Brazil should have equalised after 62 minutes, but Jesus could only hit the post after rounding Sergio Romero, with Willian hitting the woodwork with the rebound. 

There was a raft of substitutions in the second period, as Brazil continued to pose questions of Argentina’s defence through the dangerous Jesus.  

Jesus could only strike the near post having done all the hard work by rounding Romero

Jesus could only strike the near post having done all the hard work by rounding Romero

Jesus could only strike the near post having done all the hard work by rounding Romero

The City striker's night would end in further woe as he was carried off on a stretcher

The City striker's night would end in further woe as he was carried off on a stretcher

The City striker’s night would end in further woe as he was carried off on a stretcher

Brazil took on Argentina in a high-profile international match at Melbourne Cricket Ground

Brazil took on Argentina in a high-profile international match at Melbourne Cricket Ground

Brazil took on Argentina in a high-profile international match at Melbourne Cricket Ground

An Argentina support is all smiles as she prepares to enter the ground to watch the friendly

An Argentina support is all smiles as she prepares to enter the ground to watch the friendly

An Argentina support is all smiles as she prepares to enter the ground to watch the friendly

Former Sevilla manager Jorge Sampaoli is the third boss for Argentina in as many years

Former Sevilla manager Jorge Sampaoli is the third boss for Argentina in as many years

Former Sevilla manager Jorge Sampaoli is the third boss for Argentina in as many years

But the 20-year-old’s night would end in pain as he was hit by a flailing elbow from his club team-mate Otamendi, forcing him off the field and making him a doubt for the friendly against Australia on Tuesday. 

Sampaoli’s side held on for the victory, providing Argentina with a morale-boosting win heading into a pivotal phase of qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

Argentina, who are currently in fifth place – the play-off spot – face Uruguay in Montevideo at the end of August in a crucial encounter with four qualifying group games remaining.

Brazil have already qualified for next summer’s tournament following nine straight wins under Tite, but defeat against their fiercest rivals will leave a bitter taste nonetheless. 

 

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