Messi and Argentina lose to Saudi Arabia in one of the biggest World Cup upsets ever
LUSAIL, Qatar (AP) — On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia defeated Argentina 2-1 in one of the biggest World Cup surprises in history.
Messi’s quest for the one big prize that has eluded him got off to a frightening start, recalling Cameroon’s 1-0 victory over an Argentina side captained by Maradona in the opening game of the 1990 World Cup.
The Saudis won thanks to goals by Saleh Alshehri and Salem Aldawsari in a five-minute spell in the second half. Argentina gained an early lead thanks to Messi’s penalty in the 10th minute.
Other World Cup upsets include Senegal’s 1-0 triumph against titleholder France in the 2002 tournament opener and the United States defeating England by the same score in 1950.
Argentina’s 36-match unbeaten run ended at the Lusail Stadium in Messi’s fifth — and likely last — World Cup.
The Paris Saint-Germain star shook hands with a Saudi coaching staff member after the final whistle and stood with his hands on his hips near the center circle, an all-too familiar scene for one of the best players ever who is yet to win the biggest prize in soccer.
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The unlikely victory was sealed by a somersault by Aldawsari, who brought down a high ball just inside the penalty area, turned one defender, jinked past another and drove a powerful shot past goalkeeper Emi Martinez, who got a hand on the ball but couldn’t keep out of the net in the 53rd.
A astonished Messi watched as dozens of green-clad fans from Qatar’s neighbour, Saudi Arabia, rejoiced in astonishment in the stands. Saudi Arabia’s replacements rushed the field.
Argentina took the lead through Messi’s penalty after the video assistant referee instructed the referee to look at a shirt grab by Saud Abdulhamid on Argentina player Leandro Paredes.
Saleh Alshehri struck the bottom corner with an angled finish through the legs of defender Cristian Romero on Saudi Arabia’s first chance in goal.