Saudi Arabia defeated a Lionel Messi-led Argentina 2-1 in both sides’ opening game at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on Tuesday, in the biggest upset of the event so far, putting the one of the tournament’s favorites in real danger of an early exit.
The Saudi team was able to secure a historic victory after striker Saleh Alshehri and winger Salem Aldawsari scored back-to-back goals in the space of five minutes in the early part of the second half.
Argentine captain Messi had put his team ahead 10 minutes into the start of the game, scoring from the penalty spot after the Saudi team conceded a foul inside the box.
Despite maintaining nearly 70% of the possession throughout the game, Argentina were punished for failing to breach the Saudi defenses.
Messi’s hopes of finally securing a World Cup now rest on his team’s ability to score victories against Mexico and Poland, the two other members of its group, which are both ranked much higher than Saudi Arabia.
36. That is the number of games Argentina had remained unbeaten in before their shocking Tuesday loss. The defeat means Argentina falls one short of Italy’s world record of 37 unbeaten games on the trot.
The World Cup is the only major trophy that has evaded Messi, who is widely considered the greatest footballer of his generation alongside Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. With a long-unbeaten streak and a revitalized Messi leading them, Argentina entered the tournament as one of the favorites to win. The loss to Saudi Arabia is likely to bring back memories of the 1990 World Cup where defending world champions Argentina, then led by Diego Maradona, were stunned by Cameroon’s 1-0 win over them in their first game of the tournament.
With an income of $130 Million this year, Lionel Messi was the the top ranked player on Forbes’ list of top paid athletes of 2022.
Saudi Arabia stun Messi and Argentina in one of World Cup history’s biggest shocks (ESPN)