QATAR: Saudi Arabia stunned Argentina 2-1 on Tuesday at the Lusail Stadium. This is one of the biggest upsets of the FIFA World Cup for Argentina, which is led by Lionel Messi.
With a coolly taken spot kick in the tenth minute, Messi gave Argentina, the lead from the penalty spot. Argentina is one of the favourites to win the FIFA World Cup.
Argentina’s early lead
Argentina went into the game with a huge expectation of winning and were on track to match Italy’s record-breaking 37-match unbeaten streak when they scored their first goal. After a VAR check for pushing and shoving in the box, Messi’s penalty gave Argentina the lead early on.
On a breakaway, Messi, playing in his fifth World Cup, beat Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais. However, Saudi Arabia’s high defensive line held firm, and two other goal attempts by Lautaro Martinez were ruled offside.
Argentina dominated the first 45 minutes of the game. Saudi Arabia was barely in the game. They left the field at halftime looking like they were hanging on for dear life.
Saudi Arabia’s comeback in the second half
Saudi Arabia returned strongly in the early stages of the second half of the game. Saleh Al-Shehri scored in the 48th minute with a low shot, and Al-Dawsari scored in the 53rd minute with a scorching strike from the edge of the penalty area that stunned Argentina.
When Lisandro Martinez’s shot deflected off Nicolas Tagliafico, and Al-Owais made a strong save to deny Argentina a goal. Lionel Messi’s team, consisting of four players in their starting XI who were older than 34, appeared worn out in the final 30 minutes.
A nasty collision between Al-Owais and Yasir Al Shahrani caused the defender to leave the field on a stretcher, delaying the game as Saudi Arabia, ranked 51st in the world, neared a historic victory.
The dreadful defeat against Saudi Arabia means that Argentina has little margin for error against Mexico and Poland in their other upcoming Group C matches. Argentina will cling to the fact that despite losing to Cameroon in their first World Cup match in 1990, they still made it to the final.