t will go down as one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history and the result leaves Argentina with a mountain to climb if they are to reach the second round knockout stage.
Saudi Arabia stunned Argentina – and the entire globe – on Tuesday morning with a 2-1 victory that will reverberate across the world.
Albiceleste captain Lionel Messi had given the Copa América holders an early lead from the penalty spot but Saleh Al-Shehri equalised early in the second half. Just a few minutes later, Salem Al-Dawsari struck a sensational winner from distance to sink Argentina and end the side’s 36-match unbeaten run.
Playing a brave and risky high defensive line, the athletic Saudis rode their luck in the first half. Three times Argentina had the ball in the net, only to be denied by an offside call.
But during a chaotic start to the second half, the Saudis swarmed all over Lionel Scaloni’s team and scored twice as the Arab nation beat the South Americans for the first time in five attempts.
In a first half dominated by Argentina, it initially seemed to be only a matter of time before the Albiceleste sliced through the Saudi back-line. That condensed the game into a sliver of green turf around the halfway line as the Saudis happily allowed Argentina’s back four to pass the ball among themselves.
It seemed the Middle Eastern sidewere facing a long afternoon after VAR intervened to award a penalty when Saud Abdulhamid wrestled Leandro Paredes to the ground in the box at a corner.
Messi waited for goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais to dive to his left before cooly rolling the ball into the opposite corner.
But if the Saudis felt aggrieved at the technology, it would later help keep them in the game. Argentina thrice the ball in the net only to be denied by razor-tight offside calls, the first given by VAR.
There was no controversy about the equaliser three minutes into the second half, though, as Al-Shehri ran onto a touch from Feras Al-Brikan, beat Cristian Romero on the outside and slotted the ball back across goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez and into the far corner.