Lionel Messi and Argentina went down to a stunning defeat in its World Cup opener. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
In one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, Saudi Arabia defeated tournament favorite Argentina and Lionel Messi in the first group stage match for both teams in Lusail, Qatar on Tuesday.
After Messi had given the South Americans a 1-0 lead on a 10th-minute penalty kick, which was aided by a video assistant referee call, the Saudis rallied with a pair off goals early in the second half and held on during 13 minutes of second-half stoppage time.
Saleh Alshehri and Salem Aldawsari scored for the Saudis in the 48th and 53rd minutes, respectively, as the Middle Eastern country registered its biggest win ever while snapping Argentina’s 36-game unbeaten streak.
Alshehri’s goal was Saudi Arabia’s first goal on shot, which went through the legs of defender Cristian Romero.
Argentina had three goals called back due to offside calls.
Messi, one of the greatest players to play the game, still has never won a World Cup. Qatar 2022 likely will be his final attempt to win a world championship.
The Argentines face a must-win situation against Mexico on Saturday.
In modern World Cup history, two stunning results stand out – Cameroon’s 1-0 win over defending champion Argentina at Italia 90 and Senegal’s 1-0 victory over defending champ France at the 2002 tournament in Korea and Japan.
The U.S.’s 1-0 upset of England at the 1950 World Cup is considered one of the biggest surprises in the competition’s history.