Saudis stun Argentina in historic upset

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Argentina crashed to defeat in their opening game at Qatar 2022™ as two second half goals from Saudi Arabia made history.

  • Saudi Arabia came from behind, scoring two second half goals, to claim a shock three points in their World Cup opener

  • Lionel Messi had opened the scoring from the spot for an Argentina side that were otherwise unable to break through

  • Argentina face Mexico in their next group game as Saudi Arabia take on Poland

Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia | Group C

Lionel Messi (P) 10′; Saleh Al Shehri (48′), Salem Al Dawsari (53′)

Argentina v Saudi Arabia | Group C | FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ | Highlights
Watch the highlights from the match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia played at Lusail Stadium, Lusail on Tuesday, 22 November 2022.

Match Review

Saudi Arabia performed the first real miracle of the Qatar 2022 World Cup by defeating competition favourites Argentina.

Messi had opened the scoring just ten minutes in with a cool penalty, and as Argentina put the ball in the net three more times before the half time whistle – with every one being ruled out for off-side – it was looking like one-way traffic. That said, it was a far from vintage performance from Argentina, ultimately punished when Saleh Al Shehri latched onto a long ball and lashed a left-foot shot into the far corner of Emi Martinez’ goal.

It was Saudi Arabia’s first effort – but it would not be their last. Just five minutes later, Salem Al Dawsari scored one of the goals of the tournament to launch the Saudis into an astonishing lead. An exceptional save at close range from Mohammed Al Owais shortly after preserved the underdog’s lead, and the Albiceleste failed to meaningfully threaten for the remainder of this astonishing match.

Key Moment: Saudi sucker-punch

It was the moment in which the world held its breath. As the ball was launched downfield, few onlookers would have predicted the devastation that Al Shehri would cause when he latched onto the ball.

Pushing the ball into the box, it appeared as though he had taken himself too wide to cause the defence any trouble. However, taken quickly and with electric sparking through every inch of the World Cup ball, the flashing shot was past the Argentina goalkeeper before he could blink. While Saudi Arabia’s winner will justifiably grab the headlines, this was the goal that initiated lift off.

Stat of the Match

Lionel Messi came close to bookending the statistics for youngest and oldest World Cup goalscorer for Argentina. Having become the youngest (18 years and 357 days) in 2006, he today became the second oldest (35 years and 151 days).

Over one year younger than Martin Palermo and having claimed Qatar 2022 will be his final World Cup, it is unlikely he will complete the feat.