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World Cup 2022: Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia: Salem Al-Dawsari scores winner as Messi got a penalty

Jeffrey Monkhouse

Updated: Nov 23, 2022 01:49

World Cup 2022: Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia: Salem Al-Dawsari scores winner as Lionel Messi penalty is cancelled out by famous second-half comeback


At the Lusail Iconic Stadium, Salem Al-Dawsari's magnificent solo effort helped Saudi Arabia defeat Argentina 2-1 in Group C, pulling off one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.

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Match report as goals from Saleh Al-Shehri (48) and Salem Al-Dawsari (53) complete famous World Cup turnaround win for Saudi Arabia against Argentina; Lionel Messi scored from the penalty spot (10) but one of the pre-tournament favourites are beaten at Lusail Iconic Stadium

One of the biggest moments in any World Cup finals was when Al-Dawsari grabbed the ball out of the air, dribbled past two Argentina players, and curled his finish past Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

After a contentious VAR decision, Lionel Messi gave one of the tournament favorites the lead from the penalty spot (10), but Saleh Al-Shehri equalized just three minutes into the second half to set up an enormous upset.

The result ended Argentina's 36-game unbeaten run, stretching back to defeat against Brazil three years ago but this was the greatest day in Saudi Arabian football history.

Argentina last lost their initial World Cup group game in 1990, against Cameroon, and went on to lose to Germany in the championship game. However, that will not be much comfort to the South Americans right now after losing to the team ranked 51st in the world in terms of football.

How Saudi Arabia shocked Argentina


Saleh Al-Shehri sparked a stunning turnaround

Big moments in the game...

10 min: Saud Abdulhamid is penalised for pulling Leandro Paredes' shirt inside the box. Lionel Messi dispatches his penalty.

22 min: Messi has the ball in the net, but the offside flag goes up immediately to cut short Argentina celebrations.

27 min: Martinez is slipped clean through on goal and he produces a lovely dink to score but the strike is disallowed by VAR for offside.

35 min: Argentina and Martinez have the ball in the net again, but the flag once again goes up for offside against the Inter forward.

48 min: Saleh Al-Shehri finds a yard of space on Cristian Romero to flash a low shot into the bottom corner.

53 min: Salem Al-Dawsari scores a stunning solo goal to complete the comeback.

Saudi Arabia didn't attempt a single shot in the opening period, and historically, they have had poor goal-scoring rates. Saudi Arabia has drawn an undesirable blank in the first half of a game three times out of the ten times that have occurred since 1966, making what transpired against Argentina all the more improbable.

Midfielder Abdulelah Al-Malki claimed that the Saudis' coach, Herve Renard, who was fired by Cambridge United in 2004 fired them up like never before.

"Renard made us cry with the motivation before the match and stoked us up during half-time," he said, affectionately calling the Frenchman "crazy".

The Lusail Stadium hosted the game in a remarkable atmosphere, with thousands of Saudis crossing the border to support their team joining Argentina's customarily large and boisterous fan base.

Following a VAR review after ten minutes, referee Slavko Vincic gave Argentina a penalty when Leandro Paredes' shirt was tugged by Saud Abdulhamid inside the area.

Messi made no mistakes, joining Cristiano Ronaldo, Miroslav Klose, Uwe Seeler, and Pelé as the only players to score in four different World Cup competitions.


Messi scored in the opening goal from the spot

In the first half, Argentina was then denied three times by offside flags, with Messi being stopped once before Lautaro Martinez twice found the back of the net but were disallowed by VAR.

Within three minutes of the game's restart, though, Al-Shehri capitalized on Cristian Romero's hesitation to hit the bottom corner.

Al-Dawsari brought the ball down inside the Argentina box, danced past Nahuel Molina and Angel Di Maria, and curled a right-foot shot high into the far corner to seal a victory against all odds. If the Saudis inside the stadium watched speechless along with the rest of the world, they had barely caught their breath.


Argentina's Lautaro Martinez scores a goal before it is ruled out after a VAR check

Both teams have Mexico and Poland to come, with Argentina needing an immediate reaction if Messi is to have a realistic chance of matching Diego Maradona's immortality in his homeland by bringing home the World Cup.

The result broke Argentina's amazing 36-match undefeated run and stopped them from matching the previous international record of 37 games unbeaten held by Italy.

World Cup's biggest shocks

June 1950: USA 1-0 England

July 1966: North Korea 1-0 Italy

June 1978: Scotland 3-2 Netherlands

June 1990: Argentina 0-1 Cameroon

June 1994: Republic of Ireland 1-0 Italy

May 2002: France 0-1 Senegal

June 2002: Italy 1-2 South Korea

June 2010: Spain 0-1 Switzerland

November 2022: Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia

Argentina lose from winning position - Opta stats

Saudi Arabia became the first non-European team to beat Argentina at the World Cup since Cameroon in 1990, with Argentina winning their such 13 games since then before today. They are the first Asian team to beat Argentina in World Cup history at the fifth attempt.

The last three teams to beat Argentina at the World Cup have either gone on to win the competition (Germany in 2014, France in 2018) or reached the final (Croatia in 2018).

Argentina have suffered their first defeat in all competitions since July 2019, when they lost 2-0 to Brazil, ending a run of 36 unbeaten matches.

Argentina's Lionel Messi became the fourth player to appear at five different World Cup tournaments (2006, 2010, 2014, 2018, 2022), along with Antonio Carbajal (Mexico), Lothar Matthäus (Germany) and Rafael Márquez (Mexico).

Saudi Arabia failed to have a single shot in the first half of this game; since 1966, three of the 10 instances of a team failing to attempt a shot in the first half of a game have come from Saudi Arabia (also vs France in 1998 and Germany in 2002).

Lionel Messi has scored in five consecutive Argentina appearances for just the second time, along with a six game run between November 2011 and September 2012.

Salem Al Dawsari became only the third Saudi Arabian player to score more than once at the World Cup (two goals) along with Sami Al Jaber (3) and Fuad Amin (2). His two goals have come in different editions (2018 and 2022), with only Al Jaber also scoring in more than one tournament (1994, 1998, 2006).

What the result means...


Saleh Al-Shehri celebrates his equaliser

Argentina came into this tournament with the goal of winning, so defeating Saudi Arabia always seemed like a simple box that only needed to be checked.

The second-place team in the World Cup will play Mexico on Saturday at 7 p.m., where a win is essential if they are to advance. Argentina must earn at least a point to keep their chances of progressing from being seriously jeopardized.

With a win against Poland earlier that day, Saudi Arabia would almost certainly advance to the knockout rounds and likely take first place in their group. Kickoff is at 10 a.m.

The Group C winners will play the Group D runner-up, which consists of France, Denmark, Tunisia, and Australia. The Group D runner-up will compete against the Group C champions.

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