In one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, Saudi Arabia beat Argentina 2-1 in their 2022 World Cup opener on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia were propelled by two goals early in the second half which left Argentina hot on their heels.
Saudi Arabia entered the World Cup at No. 51 in the FIFA rankings, while Argentina were ranked at No. 3. Prior to this loss, Argentina were unbeaten in their last 36 matches – the second-longest streak in men’s international football history.
Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari scored for Saudi Arabia in the 48th and 53rd minutes respectively. Lionel Messi scored Argentina’s only goal from a 10th-minute penalty.
The match started as planned, with Argentina in attack. Messi had a first shot attempt saved in the second minute. Moments later, in the ninth minute, Argentina fired a penalty after VAR review when Leandro Paredes was brought down in the box by Abdulelah Al Malki.
The foul gave Messi a penalty attempt, which he put in the back of the net for his seventh career World Cup goal.
Argentina appeared to score three more goals later in the first half, but each was disallowed after offside calls. The South American nation was called offside 10 times in the game.
With a 1-0 halftime lead, Argentina were in complete control. After leaving the locker room, the wind changed. Saudi Arabia scored twice in the first eight minutes of the second half.
Al-Shehri beat his man from the spot in the box, firing a left-footed shot under the defender and into the far corner of the net.
Minutes later, Al-Dawsari gave Saudi Arabia a shocking lead with a decisive goal.
He got away from three defenders and curled a shot into the far corner which left the Argentina team stunned. Goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez put his finger on the shot, but it wasn’t enough to stop it.
In the final moments, Argentina had several chances to equalize the game. Each time, Saudi Arabia had an answer.
Goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais made five saves, including an impressive jumping catch in stoppage time to hold on to the lead. Argentina managed 15 shots (six on goal) against just three shots (two on goal) for Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia now has four World Cup victories in its history. It was the first time since 1990 that Argentina had lost their first game in the World Cup.
Both teams will return to the field on Saturday, November 26. Saudi Arabia takes on Poland at 8 a.m. ET, while Argentina takes on Mexico at 2 p.m. in what has suddenly become a must-watch game.