Lionel Messi, Argentina Suffer Historic Upset Loss to Saudi Arabia in 2022 World Cup

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVNovember 22, 2022

LUSAIL CITY, QATAR - NOVEMBER 22: Lionel Messi of Argentina is challenged by s during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at Lusail Stadium on November 22, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari scored second-half goals to lead Saudi Arabia to a stunning 2-1 upset victory over Argentina in a Group C opener at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Lionel Messi gave the Albiceleste a 1-0 lead by converting a penalty kick in the 10th minute, but the heavily favored Argentines couldn't put another shot past Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais, who made five saves.

The Green Falcons dominated the early stages of the second half to take the lead and then withstood ample Argentina pressure in the final minutes to secure the win and three unexpected points.

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

We just witnessed an absolute STUNNER 🤯<br><br>Relive Saudi Arabia's insane upset over Argentina in our 90' in 90" ⬇️ <a href="https://t.co/SpEEMnk9CL">pic.twitter.com/SpEEMnk9CL</a>

Messi and Co. entered the tournament as one of the favorites, in large part because of a 36-game unbeaten streak that dated back more than three years.

Statman Dave @StatmanDave

Argentina’s unbeaten run of 36 games has come to an end. The last time they lost before today was on the 3rd July 2019, against Brazil. That was 1239 days ago. <br><br>A disastrous start to their World Cup campaign. 🫥 <a href="https://t.co/LjPTfGDiYb">pic.twitter.com/LjPTfGDiYb</a>

Argentina dominated most of the match, holding 69 percent of possession and holding a 14-3 advantage in shots attempted, but the first 10 minutes of the second half proved disastrous for the South American side.

Firas Al-Buraikan made a wonderful touch to send Al-Shehri into space, and the 29-year-old striker made no mistake as he fired in a shot at the far post for his 11th international goal.

Eight minutes later, some porous defending in the box by Argentina left enough space for Al-Dawsari to blast a shot past Argentinian goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez for the lead.

Argentina was able to regain control of the pace over the final 30 minutes, but Al-Owais was up to the task, highlighted by a tremendous save on a Julián Álvarez header deep into stoppage time.

B/R Football @brfootball

ARGENTINA LOSE THEIR WORLD CUP OPENER TO SAUDI ARABIA 😱 <a href="https://t.co/IEk2ZpnpDl">pic.twitter.com/IEk2ZpnpDl</a>

While Saudi Arabia celebrates a milestone victory, the focus for Argentina shifts to finding a way to avoid a shocking group-stage exit in the coming days.

The Albiceleste already faced added pressure coming into the tournament with the knowledge this could be Messi's last World Cup, and thus the legend's final opportunity to capture the most coveted international prize.

Now they may need wins in each of their final two group matches against Mexico and Poland to secure a berth in the knockout rounds.

Regardless of what happens from this point forward for both Saudi Arabia and Argentina, Tuesday's result will long be remembered as one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history.