Argentina and Lionel Messi’s hopes of finally lifting the World Cup suffered a massive blow on the very first hurdle as his side was stunned by Saudi Arabia in their Group C clash at Lusail Stadium.
Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari scored two goals within five minutes in the second half to seal one of the biggest upsets in football World Cup’s history.
The game began such promisingly for Argentina, one of the favourites to lift the World Cup trophy this year, with Messi beating Mohammed Alowais from the penalty spot in just the 10th minute after Saudi Arabia was penalised for impeding Leandro Paredes during a corner.
Lisandro Martinez and Messi then had goals struck off for offside as Argentina looked to be cruising to their 37th consecutive unbeaten game.
Things unravelled rather quickly for them as Al-Shehri found the back of the net in the 48th minute followed by Al-Dawsari unleashing a perfect curler past Emiliano Martínez in the 53rd minute.
Al-Owais then kept his side in front by denying Martinez from a point-blank range as Argentina looked out of answers in the final minutes of the game.
Saudi Arabia, who at 51st is the second-lowest ranked team in the tournament, then hung on for a famous win, their first ever in the opening contest of a world cup.
The defeat does not end Argentina’s hopes of the crown but makes their matches against Mexico and Poland must-win games if they are to stave off early elimination.