Underdogs Saudi Arabia shocked the world as they came from behind to take all three points in the opening group game against Argentina.
Argentina come into the tournament as of one the favourites to win the competition.
They were unbeaten in 36 games under Lionel Scaloni, winning the Copa America and 2022 Finalissma in that time. It took just eight minutes for Argentina to open the scoresheet.
Messi took an out-swinging corner for Argentina and Al Owais does well to punch it away from danger. However, a penalty was given after a foul from Al Bulayahi on Paredes in the box. Lionel Messi then put the resulting penalty into the bottom left corner; with the goal keeper diving the wrong way.
Argentina pressured their Asian opponents from then on. At half time, Argentina should have been home and dry. They would have been four to the good in a pre-VAR era; but VAR and that computerized offside system kept Saudi Arabia’s absurdly high defensive line mostly intact. They had three goals disallowed—two by Lautaro Martinez and one by Lionel Messi.
At the start of the second half, it was the Arabians that looked thirsty. Saleh Al Shehri’s left footed shot from the left side of the box gave them the equaliser in the 48th minute.
It didn’t take the men in green and white to turn the game around. A brilliant goal by their star man Salem Al-Dawsari gave them the lead against all odds. It was a rising effort that glanced the hand of keeper Martinez, who wasn’t able to keep it out; and it flew into the top corner.
From then on, Saudi Arabia did very well to break up the play and run the clock down at every opportunity they got.
This will be Saudi Arabia’s first win against Argentina in all competitions. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia have only managed to make it out of the group stages once in their history. That was when they made their debut in 1994. Herve Renard’s side did top their qualifying group; ahead of both Japan and Australia as they conceded just six goals in 10 games.