DOHA, (WAM) — Title co-favourites Argentina started their World Cup challenge with a shocking defeat as they were beaten 2-1 by Saudi Arabia in the Group C opening match on Tuesday at the Lusail Stadium.
Argentina’s Number 10 Lionel Messi broke the deadlock for Argentina from the spot in the 10th minute as the South American team seemed to have the game under control, but they were soon frustrated as Messi and Lautaro Martinez were denied twice by a strong Saudi defensive line and saw their goals ruled out for offside.
Argentina held on to their lead until the break as they sought to equal Italy’s record of 37th international match unbeaten, but were stunned in the 48th minute when Saleh Al-Shehri, Saudi’s top scorer in qualifying, beat a sleepy defence to equalise.
Messi and his teammates were once again astonished when Salem Al-Dawsari curled the ball into the top corner to fire Saudi Arabia into the lead.
Saudi keeper Mohammed Al-Owais starred as he was crucial to secure their first-ever win against Argentina, after he made fantastic saves to deny Nicolas Tagliafico from close range and a late Messi header.