- Messi-led Argentina was trounced 2-1 by Saudi Arabia in Doha.
- Argentina’s first-half penalty attempt by Lionel Messi proved to be futile.
- Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais made some stunning saves against Argentina.
The Green Falcons of Saudi Arabia achieved the unfathomable to defeat Lionel Messi-led Argentina 2-1 in their World Cup 2022 Group C opener in Doha on Tuesday, pulling off one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history. In the most prominent football tournament, Herve Renard’s team put on one of the most significant victories by an Asian nation by exerting every ounce of their energy in a spirited performance.
The Lusail Stadium hosted the game in a spectacular atmosphere, with thousands of Saudis cheering their team, adding to Argentina’s sizeable and boisterous fan base. After the effervescent Messi kicked off his fifth and final World Cup with a penalty in the 10th minute, Argentina was on track to match Italy’s record unbeaten streak of 37 games. But in the second half, Saudi Arabia scored twice in five minutes to grab a 2-1 lead in Qatar, shocking La Albiceleste.
A few minutes after the break, Saleh Al-Shehri equalised for Herve Renard’s team with a low shot, and then Salem Al-Dawsari gave Saudi Arabia the lead with a beautiful curling shot from the edge of the box.
After a video review revealed a foul, Messi netted the penalty against Saudi Arabia before Argentina had three goals disallowed. On a breakaway, Messi defeated Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais, but the goal and two others by Lautaro Martinez’s partner were annulled due to offside.
Al-Owais maintained his composure and made incredible stops to prevent Argentina from scoring numerous goals. Headed by Messi, Argentina was expected to win the World Cup in Qatar after winning Copa America in 2021; thus, this result is a shock.
The Saudi fans, draped in green, cheered loudly as every clearance from their defence was met with thunderous applause in the Lusail Stadium. “Our team makes our dreams come true!” and “Where has Messi gone? We defeated him!” they said.
After taking a 1-0 lead after just 10 minutes, Lionel Scaloni’s team appeared to be headed for an easy victory, but Saudi Arabia fought back to upset Argentina. La Albiceleste’s next World Cup match is against Mexico on Saturday in Group C.