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Qatar 2022: Saudi Arabia rally to shock Argentina 2-1

Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari scored the goals for Saudi Arabia

argentina-saudi-afp Players react at the end of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium, north of Doha | AFP

Saudi Arabia produced one of the biggest upsets in footballing history, shocking favourites Argentina 2-1 in their Group C opener at the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Lusail, Qatar.

Argentine star Lionel Messi converted a penalty in the 10th minute to put his team ahead, but goals by Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari stunned the favourites on Tuesday.

The 51st-ranked Saudis equalised in the 48th minute, when Al-Shehri punished Argentina for some poor defending, unleashing an angled shot past Emiliano Martinez.

Five minutes later, Al-Dawsari did the unthinkable, curling a stunner into the top corner from the edge of the area.

Argentina were on course to match Italy's record 37-match unbeaten run after Messi opened his fifth World Cup by converting the penalty without any fuss.

Argentina had only themselves to blame for not closing out the match, with three goals - one for Messi and two for Lauturo Martinez – disallowed for offside.

While Argentina dominated the first half, Saudi Arabia played like a team possessed, egged on by the 80,000-strong crowd. Despite their best efforts, Messi-led Argentina were unable to penetrate the Saudi defence.

Saudi Arabia were competing in their sixth World Cup but had never won an opening game earlier. Also, the last time they scored two goals in a match was on October 12, 2021, against China in the World Cup qualifying stage – they had won 3-2.

The defeat also marred Messi's achievement of becoming the first Argentine to score in four World Cups, on his 20th appearance. Only Maradona has played more games – 21 – for Argentina at the World Cup.

Argentina's last defeat in their opening match at a World Cup was against Cameroon in 1990.

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