Unheralded Saudi Arabia notched one of many greatest shocks in World Cup historical past on Tuesday with a 2-1 win over Lionel Messi’s Argentina due to a scintillating second-half comeback.
On his fifth and remaining quest for the one main trophy to elude him, the 35-year-old Messi scored a Tenth-minute penalty in a dominant first-half show the place he and Lautaro Martinez additionally had three objectives disallowed for offside.
However Saudi Arabia, the second-lowest ranked crew within the event after Ghana, threw warning to the wind in the beginning of the second half, charging at Argentina’s defence in entrance of a frenzied 88,012 crowd.
Saleh Al-Shehri squeezed in a low shot within the forty eighth minute whereas Salem Al-Dawsari curled in a scorching strike from the sting of the penalty space within the 53rd minute to go away Argentina and Messi trying totally shell-shocked within the Group C opener.
Regardless of loads of possession after that, Argentina had been unable to penetrate Saudi Arabia, who had been competing of their sixth World Cup however had by no means beforehand gained a gap recreation.
Your entire recreation was performed in a rare ambiance on the Lusail Stadium, with Argentina’s historically huge and raucous following matched by the hundreds of Saudis who had come over the border to cheer on their crew.
“Our crew fulfils our desires!” and “The place is Messi? We beat him!”, the green-clad Saudis chanted time and again within the Lusail Stadium, on their ft and greeting each clearance from their defence with a deafening roar.
Messi’s dream unsure
Each groups have Mexico and Poland to come back, with Argentina needing a direct response if Messi is to have a practical likelihood of matching Diego Maradona’s immortality in his homeland by bringing house the World Cup.
The outcome revived outdated query marks over Argentina’s defence and broke their wonderful 36-match undefeated run. That stopped them from matching the earlier worldwide document of 37 video games unbeaten held by Italy.
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It additionally marred Messi’s achievement of turning into the primary Argentinian to attain in 4 World Cups on his twentieth look within the event.
Solely Maradona has performed extra video games for Argentina on the World Cup, 21 in all.
“This hurts lots. We had been dreaming of beginning the World Cup with a win,” mentioned Messi’s strike accomplice Martinez. “However it’’s occurred and now we have now to coach and suppose ahead.
“We misplaced this recreation due to our personal errors, most of all within the second half. There are particulars that make a distinction and we have to right our errors.”
It had all seemed so completely different in the beginning when the marauding Messi practically scored within the opening seconds, celebrated joyfully after sending Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais the incorrect method along with his penalty, then had one other aim disallowed.
For the Saudis, the outcome buried their dismal historical past in the beginning of tournaments, together with a 5-0 thrashing by hosts Russia in 2018 and an 8-0 pummelling by Germany in 2002.
Their feat in opposition to the twice World Cup winners and present South American champions was all of the extra outstanding given the departure of their influential captain and midfielder Salman Al Faraj simply after halftime, clutching a hamstring.
Argentina’s final defeat was by Brazil within the semi-finals of the Copa America in July 2019. They’re ranked third, 48 locations above Saudi Arabia, by world soccer’s governing physique Fifa.
Argentina’s final defeat of their opening match at a World Cup was in opposition to Cameroon in 1990. Reuters/DM