Saudi Arabia capped off one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history with a 2-1 thrashing of Lionel Messi’s Argentina in a shock Group C clash on Tuesday.
Many had expected the South American team, ranked No. 3 and three-year undefeated title favorites, to sweep their opponents to finish 48 places behind in the world rankings.
All the pre-match talk has focused on Messi, one of the greatest players of all time, playing in what may very well be his last World Cup. The Argentina captain gave his side an early penalty to give them the lead, but two goals from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari in the second half turned things around.
Thousands of Saudi fans in Lusail Stadium couldn’t believe what they saw as they celebrated their unexpected victory.
For much of the game, such a comeback looked impossible. Argentina took control of the game after taking the lead, but everything Saudi coach Elvey Renard said at half-time worked. His team came out with renewed conviction, going head-to-head with Argentina’s world-class side.
Al Dawsari’s incredible long-distance winner – and the acrobatic celebration that followed – will go down as one of the best moments of this World Cup, or any World Cup, and will no doubt become fans’ ‘I was there’ in time. over” moment.
As full-time approached, fans cheered every tackle and save as if they were goals, and when the game was over the Saudi Arabian fans reacted with frenzy.
Both sets of players fell to their knees in disbelief and exhaustion. Messi, who had been in attendance, looked distraught as he left, with Saudi fans sarcastically cheering his name.