Fancied Argentina gobsmacked by ‘riotous’ Saudi Arabian foxes to sound a wake call to fading Messi

Fancied Argentina gobsmacked by ‘riotous’ Saudi Arabian foxes to sound a wake call to fading Messi


Lionel Messi was left stunned after his Argentina side suffered one of the great World Cup shocks. Saudi Arabia came from behind to beat Argentina 2-1 in their opening game of the tournament in Qatar.

Messi had given his team the lead inside the opening 10 minutes. A VAR check spotted a foul on Leandro Paredes and a penalty was awarded.

Messi stepped up and nonchalantly sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Argentina had three goals disallowed in the first half for offside as they looked to turn the screw. However, they were unable to make their pressure pay in terms of goals. And Saudi Arabia stunned them in four second-half minutes.

Saleh Alshehri finished expertly across Emi Martinez to equalise. Salem Aldawsari then scored arguably the goal of the tournament so far, curling a fine effort past Martinez’s outreached arm.

Argentina, who were unbeaten in 36 matches heading into the tournament, pressed to equalise for the remaining 37 minutes of normal time. Nine minutes were added on, which then extended due to an injury suffered by Saudi defender Yasir Al Shahrani.

But Argentina were not able to break their resolute opponents down. And cameras quickly turned to a dejected Messi on the pitch after the final whistle was blown. There were jubilant celebrations from the Saudi players and fans. But the Argentina side looked in shock at what had just occurred.

The defeat is a huge dent in Argentina’s chances of winning their first World Cup since 1986. They may now have to win their final two group matches against Mexico on Saturday and Poland next Wednesday.

Messi is participating at his fifth and final World Cup. He has a job on his hands to turn things around after the worst possible start.

Former Liverpool midfielder and manager Graeme Souness, who was working as a pundit on the match for ITV, was left shocked by Argentina’s performance.

Souness said, “I am gobsmacked. I have never witnessed an Argentinian team not be up for the cup, in terms of a physical encounter. They were wishy-washy today, the referee was obviously going to be lenient, Saudi Arabia were super aggressive, the referee let it go.

“At that point, Argentina have to say: ‘We have to match this otherwise we’ll be in trouble.’ That’s exactly what happened, I thought Argentina had another gear, they don’t have another gear.

“Unless they find a yard of aggression from somewhere, they can be rolled over. Really good news for England, if they have to meet them in the competition.

  • The Sun report
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