In one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, Saudi Arabia defeated Argentina 2-1 in their first match of the 2022 World Cup on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia was powered by two goals early in the second half, which left Argentina playing on its heels.
Saudi Arabia entered the World Cup at No. 51 in the FIFA rankings, while Argentina was ranked at No. 3. Prior to this defeat, Argentina was unbeaten in its last 36 matches – the second longest streak in men’s international soccer history.
Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari scored for Saudi Arabia in the 48th and 53rd minutes, respectively. Lionel Messi scored Argentina’s lone goal on a penalty kick in the 10th minute.
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The game began as expected, with Argentina on the attack. Messi had an early shot attempt saved in the second minute. Moments later in the ninth minute, Argentina drew a penalty after VAR review when Leandro Paredes was taken down in the box by Abdulelah Al Malki.
That foul gave Messi a penalty kick 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 for offsides 10 times in the match.
With a 1-0 lead at the half, Argentina was in total control. After emerging from the locker room though, the tide shifted. Saudi Arabia scored twice in the first eight minutes of the second half.
Al-Shehri beat his man to the spot in the box, firing a shot with his left foot under the defender and into the far corner of the net.
Just a few minutes later, Al-Dawsari gave Saudi Arabia the shocking lead with a decisive goal.
He got away from three defenders and curled a shot into the far corner, which left the Argentinian squad stunned. Goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez got his fingertips on the shot, but it wasn’t enough to stop it.
In the closing moments, Argentina had several opportunities to equalize the match. Each time, Saudi Arabia had an answer.
Goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais had five saves, including an impressive leaping grab in stoppage time to maintain the lead. Argentina had 15 shots (six on goal) compared to 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 lost its first match at the World Cup.
Both teams will return to the pitch on Saturday, Nov. 26. Saudi Arabia will play Poland at 8 a.m. ET, while Argentina faces Mexico at 2 p.m. in what has suddenly become a must-win game.