Soccer-Saudi Arabia shock Messi’s Argentina with comeback victory By Reuters


© Reuters. Soccer Soccer – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – Group C – Argentina v Saudi Arabia – Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar – November 22, 2022 Saudi Arabia’s Salem Al-Dawsari celebrates scoring their second purpose with teammates REUTERS/Marko Djurica


By Andrew Cawthorne and Shady Amir

LUSAIL, Qatar (Reuters) – Unheralded Saudi Arabia notched one of many greatest shocks in World Cup historical past on Tuesday with a 2-1 win over Lionel Messi’s Argentina because of a scintillating second half comeback.

On his fifth and last quest for the one main trophy to elude him, the 35-year-old Messi scored a tenth minute penalty in a dominant first half show the place he and Lautaro Martinez additionally had three objectives disallowed for offside.

However Saudi Arabia, the second-lowest ranked staff within the event after Ghana, threw warning to the wind at the beginning of the second half, charging at Argentina’s defence in entrance of a frenzied 88,012 crowd.

First, Saleh Al-Shehri squeezed in a low shot within the forty eighth minute. Then, to the disbelief of even the Saudi followers, Salem Al-Dawsari curled in a scorching strike from the sting of the penalty space within the 53rd minute to go away Argentina and Messi wanting completely shell-shocked within the Group C opener.

Regardless of loads of possession after that, Argentina couldn’t penetrate the Inexperienced Falcons, who have been competing of their sixth World Cup however had by no means beforehand gained a gap sport.

All the sport was performed in a rare environment on the Lusail Stadium, with Argentina’s historically large and raucous following matched by the 1000’s of Saudis who had come over the border to cheer on their staff.

“Our staff fulfils our goals!” and “The place is Messi? We beat him!”, the green-clad Saudis chanted again and again within the Lusail Stadium, on their ft and greeting each clearance – together with one headed off the purpose line – with a deafening roar.


Each groups have Mexico and Poland to return, with Argentina needing an instantaneous response if Messi is to have a practical probability of matching Diego Maradona’s immortality in his homeland by bringing dwelling the World Cup.

The end result revived outdated query marks over Argentina’s defence and broke their wonderful 36-match undefeated run. That stopped them from matching the earlier worldwide file of 37 video games unbeaten held by Italy.

It additionally marred Messi’s achievement on Tuesday of turning into the primary Argentinian to attain in 4 World Cups on his twentieth look within the event. Solely Maradona has performed extra video games for Argentina on the World Cup, 21 in all.

“This hurts so much. We have been dreaming of beginning the World Cup with a win,” stated Messi’s strike accomplice Martinez. “But it surely’s occurred and now now we have to coach and assume ahead.

“We misplaced this sport due to our personal errors, most of all within the second half. There are particulars that make a distinction and we have to right our errors.”

It had all regarded so completely different at the beginning when the marauding Messi practically scored within the opening seconds, celebrated joyfully after sending Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais the flawed approach along with his penalty, then had one other purpose disallowed.

For the Saudis, the end result buried their dismal historical past at the beginning of tournaments, together with a 5-0 thrashing by hosts Russia in 2018 and an 8-0 pummelling by Germany in 2002.

Their feat towards the twice World Cup-winners and present South American champions was all of the extra exceptional given the departure of their influential captain and midfielder Salman Al Faraj simply after halftime, clutching a hamstring.

Midfielder Abdulelah Al-Malki stated the Saudis have been fired up like by no means earlier than by their coach Herve Renard.

“Renard made us cry with the motivation earlier than the match and stoked us up throughout halftime,” he stated, affectionately calling the Frenchman “loopy”.

Argentina’s final defeat was by Brazil within the semi-finals of the Copa America in July 2019. They’re ranked third, 48 locations above Saudi Arabia, by world soccer’s governing physique FIFA.

Argentina’s final defeat of their opening match at a World Cup was towards Cameroon in 1990. In probably an excellent omen for Messi and his staff mates, they nonetheless made it to the ultimate then.

The Saudis may hardly comprise themselves after their giant-killing act, falling to the ground in prayers and tears earlier than operating to have fun with their followers because the Argentinians trudged off downcast, their supporters shaking heads in silence.

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