LUSEIL, Qatar — Saudi Arabia scored one of the biggest wins in World Cup history on Tuesday, beating Argentina 2-1.

Argentina, one of the favorites to win the trophy, dominated the first half and took the lead thanks to a Lionel Messi penalty in the first half. But Saudi Arabia’s stunning response after the break saw Saleh Al Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari score within five minutes, leaving Argentina defeated for the first time since June 2019 – a streak of 36 incredible matches.

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Fast reaction

one. Saudi Arabia caused one of the biggest upheavals in history

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Argentina are off to a bad start in the World Cup, but even for them it was a staggering disappointment. Saudi Arabia, ranked 51st in the world (between Qatar and Greece), scored twice in five chaotic minutes early in the second half, recording one of the biggest shocks in the tournament’s history – similar to how Cameroon beat defending champion Diego Maradona in 1990 year.

Saudi Arabia hardly participated in the game during the first 45 minutes, when Argentina dominated, and walked off the field at half-time, looking like a team clinging to life for dear life. But goals from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari – a right-footed shot that went into the top corner and one of the first contenders for the goal of the tournament – completed a remarkable turnaround.

And when the momentum was for Argentina and captain Lionel Messi to return, they lacked composure and precision in front of the net.

Argentina will cling to the fact that after losing to Cameroon in the first match of the 1990 World Cup, they still managed to reach the final. But after arriving in Qatar as the reigning South American champions and after a 36-match unbeaten streak, this campaign should have been different. Just like at Russia 2018, it looks like they have another hard work ahead of them in the group stage.

2. Argentina has only itself to blame

Lionel Scaloni’s side were supposed to be out of sight at half-time but somehow ended up behind early in the second half. They had only themselves to blame; a little more careful, by the break they could lead the score 5:0.

Messi had a good chance to save Mohammed Al Owais. After the penalty they had three offside goals, twice from Lautaro Martinez and another from Messi.

Saudi Arabia entered the World Cup with a reputation for being difficult to score goals. Although they failed to record any shots in the first half, they managed to beat Amy Martinez twice in five minutes in the second half.

What will worry Scaloni the most is that Argentina had more than 30 minutes from falling behind to draw or even win the game, but they quickly resorted to crosses into the box, which the Saudi defense pulled back with ease. Ahead of games against Poland and Mexico, Argentina will still believe they can make the playoffs, but it wasn’t the start they expected.

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3. Saudi Arabia upholds fans’ confidence

Saudi Arabian fans crossed the border into Qatar by the thousands and arrived with the sincere hope of repeating their performance at the 1994 World Cup in the United States when they reached the round of 16.

Maybe before the tournament they were the only ones who believed in it, but not now. Most of the fans who came to Lusail Stadium early on Tuesday morning admitted that they did not expect much from the game against Argentina and thought that they would probably have to score against Poland and Mexico in order to qualify from Group C. Instead, they dealt a huge win for football in Asia, especially after Qatar and Iran started their campaigns with pathetic performances against Ecuador and England respectively.

And only after the break they began to defend themselves, like a team that conceded six times in qualifying to zero. Their last World Cup began with a 5-0 thrashing of hosts Russia, but what four years can change: a day that will go down in both Saudi football history and the World Cup itself.

Player Ratings

Argentina: E. Martinez 6, Molina 5, Tagliafico 5, Romero 4, Otamendi 5, Parades 6, De Paul 6, Gomez 5, Di Maria 6, Messi 6, La. Martinez 6.

Subs: Lee. Martinez 6, Fernandez 6, Alvarez 6, Acuna 6.

Saudi ArabiaAl-Owais 9, Al-Bulaikhi 8, Abdulhamid 7, Al-Shahrani 7, Al-Tambakti 8, Al-Malki 7, Al-Dawsari 8, Al-Shehri 8, Kanno 7, Al-Faraj 7, Al-Brikan 6 .

SubsAl-Abid 6, Al-Ghannam 6, Al-Buraik 6, Asiri 6, Al-Amri 6.

Best and Worst Performers

BEST: Mohammed Al Owais

The Saudi Arabian goalkeeper made two fantastic saves, one of which was saved by Messi after 90 seconds and the other in the second half when the ball bounced off Nicolás Tagliafico.

WORST: Christian Romero

The defender wobbled as Saudi Arabia put pressure on Argentina after the break and was substituted after the second goal.

Highlights and Notable Moments

Lionel Messi opened the scoring from the penalty spot.

But Saudi Arabia hit back and then hit that goal to take the lead.

After the match: what the players and managers said

Argentinean Lionel Messi: “This is a very hard blow for everyone, we did not expect to start like this. Everything happens for a reason. We must prepare for what is to come, we must win, and it is up to us.

“There are no excuses. We are going to be more united than ever. This group is strong and we showed it. This is a situation that we have not encountered for a long time. this is a real group.

“My message to the fans: believe. We will not leave them stranded. We knew that Saudi Arabia is a team with good players who are good at dribbling and pushing the ball. [defensive] a lot of lines. We’ve been working on it, but in a bit of a rush. We must return to who we are. We have to think about what’s next.”

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni: “They scored two goals with just two shots on goal. We need to get up. Today is a sad day, but we need to raise our heads and carry on. next games. We continue to believe the same as before. The World Cup has this: you can be infinitely better and things don’t go your way. It’s never good to lose. We came to the World Cup in the best possible way, on a good track. We knew it would eventually end. Fortunately we have two [more] group games, and we’re going to do it.”

Saudi Arabia coach Herve Renard: “All the stars in the sky aligned for us, but don’t forget that Argentina is still a fantastic team. This is football, sometimes crazy things happen…

“Sometimes the opponent doesn’t have the best motivation. It’s normal, it happened to us too when we played with lower teams. Some people don’t get it, but you can imagine that when you play against Saudi Arabia, the motivation is not the same as playing against Brazil.”

Basic statistics (provided by Sportzshala Stats & Information)

– Messi became the fifth player in history to score in four FIFA World Cups. He scored 16 years after his first World Cup goal (against Serbia in June 2006), the longest gap between goals by the same player in World Cup history.

– Argentina got offsides (7) in the first half against Saudi Arabia, just like in their first half. the whole two previous World Cup group stages combined (5 in 2018, 2 in 2014).

– Saudi Arabia became the second Asian country to score against Argentina in the World Cup. The other is South Korea (scored in 1986 and 2010).

– Saudi Arabia scored multiple goals in a match for the first time since October 2021 (3-2 win against China).

– Argentina entered a 36-game unbeaten streak (started in July 2019), falling short of the longest ever men’s national team (2018-21 Italy).

– According to Official Caesars Twitter account, Saudi Arabia was 25-1 to defeat Argentina. Argentina went from +550 pre-tournament to +700 to win the World Cup as a result of an upset.


Argentina: On Saturday, Lionel Scaloni’s men will take on Mexico at the same stadium in a match that will be decisive for their hopes of qualifying. They will finish the group stage against Poland on 30 November at the 974 Stadium in Doha.

Saudi Arabia: Next in Saudi Arabia will be Poland’s Robert Lewandowski at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan on Saturday, with the final group game against Mexico taking place at that stadium on November 30.