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World Cup 2022: Superb Saudi Arabia beat Argentina 2-1 in Group C opener

A daring and sensible Saudi Arabia pulled off one of many greatest shocks in World Cup historical past as they got here from behind to stun two-time winners Argentina in a implausible Group C opener in Lusail.

Ranked 51st on the earth, Saudi Arabia might have been completed and dusted within the first half as Lionel Messi opened the scoring from the penalty spot earlier than Argentina had three objectives dominated out for offside.

But the Green Falcons flipped the sport on its head in a surprising 10-minute interval after half-time, Saleh Al-Shehri levelling with a low effort and Salem Al Dawsari firing them forward to spark pandemonium within the stands.

Having proven their ruthlessness at one finish, they demonstrated a ruggedness on the different, holding a stellar Argentina entrance line at bay to safe solely their fourth World Cup win and throw the group huge open.

Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina got here into the match among the many favourites, on the again of a 36-game unbeaten run that included successful the 2021 Copa America.

They now have all of it to do to maintain alive their hopes of a primary world triumph since 1986 and provides Messi a becoming ending to what’s very doubtless his World Cup swansong.

They face Mexico on Saturday, whereas Saudi Arabia tackle Poland.

One of the World Cup’s greatest shocks

Well, who noticed this coming?

Argentina had been among the many elite groups heading to Qatar – tipped by many to go all the best way, with a star-studded squad as sturdy on the again as they’re ruthless in assault.

In 2018 in Russia they had been chaos personified, chopping managers earlier than the occasion and beginning XIs throughout it earlier than going out within the final 16.

But underneath Scaloni they obtained their act collectively in a critical means. They don’t concede many and rating heaps – in 5 video games earlier than the World Cup they saved 5 clear sheets and netted 16 occasions – and had not tasted defeat since shedding to Brazil within the remaining of the 2019 Copa America.

That run is now over and in spectacular, humbling style.

In distinction to their opponents, few noticed Saudi Arabia making a dent at this match. Only Ghana of the 32 nations in attendance rank decrease. They had three victories earlier than this, however none of them larger.

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At full-time, in wild scenes, their gamers dropped to the turf, prayed, hugged and screamed into the sky because the bench charged on to the pitch to hitch them, weaving their well beyond disconsolate Argentina gamers.

Luck was ridden, particularly throughout a primary half when the writing was on the wall early by way of Messi’s penalty – awarded after Leandro Paredes was wrestled to the turf. Had Messi or Lautaro Martinez timed their attacking runs higher it might have been 4-0 on the break.

Having remained aggressive, Saudi Arabia seized their second in spectacular style.

Al-Shehri discovered the underside nook of Emi Martinez’s web, Salem Al Dawsari discovered the highest – each ruthless finishes, every a hammer blow to Argentina that left them floored.

They got here at Saudi Arabia and threatened in more and more determined search of a means again in, however whenever a person in inexperienced stretched out a limb to deal with or threw a physique in to dam.

Keeper Mohammed Al Owais plucked balls out of the air and dropped on pictures aimed his means. When he was absent, Abdulelah Al Amri was there to move a goalbound effort off the road.

Eight minutes had been added on the finish and almost 14 had been performed, most of them within the Saudi Arabia half and accompanied by screams of pleasure and anguish from the gang.

The remaining whistle confirmed the unbelievable and despatched Herve Renard’s facet into delirium. They are the primary non-European staff to beat Argentina on the World Cup since Cameroon in 1990.

If Argentina want one thing to cling to, it’s that they reached the ultimate following that opening defeat 42 years in the past. If you will lose group video games, it’s typically higher to take action first up, giving your self the video games to get well.

They are, although, now arguably the victims of the largest shock in World Cup historical past, up there with England’s loss to the United States in 1950 and West Germany shedding to Algeria in 1982.

Result Year Chance of victory for successful staff
Saudi Arabia 2-1 Argentina 2022 8.7%
USA 1-0 England 1950 9.5%
Switzerland 1-0 Spain 2010 10.3%
Algeria 2-1 West Germany 1982 13.2%
Ghana 2-0 Czech Republic 2006 13.9%

As for Saudi Arabia, the final three groups to beat Argentina on the World Cup have gone on to win the competitors (Germany in 2014, France in 2018) or reached the ultimate (Croatia in 2018).

Few shall be predicting that, however they now have an important likelihood to match their effort of 1994 by reaching the final 16.

Player of the match

Abdulelah Al AmriAbdulelah Al Amri

Line-ups

Argentina

Formation 4-4-2

  • 23Martínez
  • 26Molina
  • 13RomeroSubstituted forMartínezat 59′minutes
  • 19Otamendi
  • 3TagliaficoSubstituted forAcuñaat 71′minutes
  • 11Di María
  • 7De Paul
  • 5ParedesSubstituted forFernándezat 59′minutes
  • 17Gómez VillaverdeSubstituted forÁlvarezat 59′minutes
  • 10Messi
  • 22Martínez

Substitutes

  • 1Armani
  • 2Foyth
  • 4Montiel
  • 6Pezzella
  • 8Acuña
  • 9Álvarez
  • 12Rulli
  • 14Palacios
  • 15Correa
  • 16Almada
  • 18Rodríguez
  • 20Mac Allister
  • 21Dybala
  • 24Fernández
  • 25Martínez

Saudi Arabia

Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 21Al OwaisBooked at 90mins
  • 12AbdulhamidBooked at 82mins
  • 17Al Tambakti
  • 5Al BulayhiBooked at 75mins
  • 13Al Mohammadi Al ShahraniSubstituted forAl Buraykat 90+9′minutes
  • 8Al Wahbi Al MalkiBooked at 67mins
  • 9Al BrikanSubstituted forAsiriat 89′minutes
  • 7Al FarajSubstituted forAl Abidat 45+4′minutesBooked at 88minsSubstituted forAl Amriat 88′minutes
  • 23Kanno
  • 10Al DawsariBooked at 79mins
  • 11Al ShehriSubstituted forAl Ghannamat 78′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Al Rubaie Al Yami
  • 2Al Ghannam
  • 3Madu
  • 4Al Amri
  • 6Al Burayk
  • 14Otayf
  • 15Al Hassan
  • 16Al Naji
  • 18Al Abid
  • 19Bahbri
  • 20Al Obud
  • 22Al Suweiti Al Aqidi
  • 24Al Shardan Al Dawsari
  • 25Asiri

Referee:
Slavko Vincic

Attendance:
88,012

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