Saudi Arabia defeats Argentina

Seductive and realistic against a pale team from Argentina, Saudi Arabia offers one of the finest feats in its history by bringing down the band to Messi for its entry into the competition (2-1). A daydream for the Falcons, a nightmare for one of the favorites of this 2022 World Cup who is already in difficulty.


Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia

Goals: Messi (SP) (10e) for Argentina // Al-Shehri (48e), Al-Dawsari (53e) for Saudi Arabia

Green flags flying, hugs, and a release after ten minutes of endless added time: Saudi Arabia created the first sensation of this 2022 World Cup by beating Lionel Messi’s Argentina ( 2-1). A real feat as only the World Cup can create, for a team which, apart from its 2018 success against Egypt (2-1), had not won since 1994 in the exercise against a Albiceleste who could have equaled Italy’s unbeaten record of 37 games unbeaten in all competitions. More beautiful still: on the ground, it is the Saudi formation which went to win its grail in front of a crazy crowd. And she didn’t need anyone.

Messi opens the ball

In a Lusail Stadium well shared between two impressive Argentinian and Saudi kops, Mohamed Al-Owais prevents the Argentinian sector from exploding from the start, repelling a flat left foot from Leo Messi. Immediately, it is obvious that the Saudis did not come to park the bus. But it is the VAR which will cool the ardor of Hervé Renard’s men, when on a corner, Saud Abdulhamid belts Leandro Paredes who plays the shot well. Messi converts the penalty (1-0, 9e), and we then say to ourselves that, like Qatar or Iran, Saudi Arabia will in turn sink. But this is not the case, quite the contrary.

The Greens take absolutely every risk, play offside 35 meters from their goal and, in fact, Messi and then Lautaro Martinez twice see their goals logically disallowed. Opposite, the Falcons fly in the midfield under the impetus of a great Mohamed Kanno and a precious Salem Al-Dawsari. Hard blow all the same before the break, when the captain Salman Al-Faran leaves in tears on injury. But Hervé Renard is not shaking: the coach in the white shirt has a plan that the world is about to take in the face.

Millennium Falcons

Upon returning from the locker room, the Saudi team is transformed into a tidal wave and breaks on a Albiceleste without resources. Full axis, Leo Messi loses the leather and sees Saleh Al-Shehri leave at the limit of offside. The Green striker’s cross shot is perfect, Emiliano Martinez is beaten, the Lusail erupts (1-1, 48e). Five minutes later, it’s the explosion: Al-Dawsari releases an impossible dribble behind his support leg, hooks and wraps in the Argentinian bezel (1-2, 53e). The Argentinians are knocked out standing, the Saudis are jumping everywhere, and on the green rectangle, the Renard players are levitating. Hassan Al-Tambakti turns into Franco Baresi when he tackles The Pulga at the penalty spot; Al-Owais, number 2 at his club Al-Hilal, recalls Lev Yachine by performing a miracle from Nico Tagliafico and then collecting a header from Messi.

The minutes go by, Argentina accelerates to equalize, and the eight minutes of additional time are endless for the 51e FIFA nation. Just entering the game, Alamri saves the homeland on his line, before a timeout following an exit from the goalkeeper knee forward in the head of Al-Sharani who must be evacuated on a stretcher under the worried gaze of his teammates. But Saudi Arabia is holding on and giving itself an injection of unlimited love for posterity.

Argentina (4-2-3-1): Martinez – Molina, Romero (Lisandro Martinez, 58e), Otamendi, Tagliafico (Acuna, 71st) – De Paul, Paredes (Fernandez, 58e) – Papu Gómez (Álvarez, 58e), Messi, Di Maria – Lautaro Martinez. Coach : Lionel Scaloni.

Saudi Arabia (4-4-1-1): Al-Owais – Al-Shahrani (AlBurayk, 90th+6), Al-Boleahi, Al Tambakti, Abdulhamid – Al-Dawsari, Al Malki, Kanno, Al-Shehri – Al-Faraj (Nawaf, 45e) then (Alabid, 89e) – Al-Buraikan (Asiri, 89e). Coach : Hervé Renard.

Notes from Argentina-Saudi Arabia

By Andrea Chazy, at Lusail Stadium

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