Saudi Arabia Causes World Cup’s Greatest Shock, Beats Argentina

Saudi Arabia Causes World Cup’s Greatest Shock, Beats Argentina

Saudi Arabia  caused one of the biggest upsets in the history of the World Cup as they came from behind to beat Argentina 2-1 in a memorable Group C encounter.

For Argentina, the defeat brought back memories of their 1-0 defeat to a spirited Cameroon in the 1990 World Cup in Italy, then led by another storied megastar, Diego Maradona.

The result also had echoes of Senegal beating France, then the defending world champions, 1-0, in the 2002 World Cup.

It was Argentina’s first defeat in 36 games — the last team to beat them was fellow soccer heavyweight Brazil in 2019. At this World Cup, only Ghana was lower than Saudi Arabia in the rankings.

Lionel Messi had given Argentina, one of the pre-match favourites, the lead 10 minutes in before Saudi Arabia – ranked 48 places below the South American giants – launched a stunning fightback.

Messi is now the fifth player to score at four World Cups, joining Brazilian legend Pele and Cristiano Ronaldo. But that may be scant consolation if his team can’t progress from the first round.

But in a 10-minute period after half-time, goals from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari overturned the Argentine lead, and the Saudis were able to hold on to confirm one of the biggest World Cup upsets since the tournament began in 1930.

The latter goal was particularly skillful. After deftly controlling a loose ball, Al-Dawsari, facing away from goal, turned inside to bewilder two Argentina defenders before sidestepping a third and launching a rocket of a shot in the far corner, sending the army of green-clad Saudi fans into fevered celebration.

Thousands of Saudi fans were seen on social media dancing, banging drums and singing after the match in the Doha sunshine.

But given Saudi’s victory against such a daunting foe and the sheer gap in profile and standing between the two, this may be the greatest World Cup shocker yet.

For Messi, one of the most recognizable faces in the sports world who is almost certainly playing in his last World Cup, the defeat raises the possibility that he could end his career without winning the prestigious tournament — one of the few achievements he has yet to conquer.

At that stage, SkyBet had Saudi Arabia as high as 500-1 to come from behind and secure all three points.