Saudi Arabia Stun Messi's Argentina In World Cup Opener

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia

Lionel Messi's Argentina suffered a dramatic 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in their opening 2022 FIFA World Cup match. 

Group C

Venue: Lusail Iconic Stadium

The Group C encounter started at a high tempo, with the first chance of the match falling to Argentina captain and record goalscorer Messi, whose left-footed effort in the box was saved by Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais.

Five minutes later, however, the 36-year-old did find the back of the net through a penalty-kick after midfielder Leandro Paredes was adjudged to have been fouled in the box following a corner, with Messi becoming the first Argentine to score at four different World Cup tournaments. 

Argentina had the ball in the back of the net a further three times in the first half, but Saudi Arabia's risky defensive high line appeared effective as VAR confirmed those three offside calls.

Despite the South Americans having most of the possession, the Falcons enjoyed moments where they troubled their opponents' defence, with centre-backs Nicolas Otamendi and Cristian Romero being called into action perhaps more than they expected. 

Shot-stopper Emiliano Martinez, though, went untested as Argentina took a 1-0 lead into the break. 

Moments after the game resumed, though, the Saudis equalised through Saleh Al-Shehri before an incredible individual effort from Salem Al-Dawsari put them ahead just four minutes later, silencing Argentinian fans at the Lusail Iconic Stadium.

A few moments of smart play out wide from Angel Di Maria saw the Juventus winger put a teasing cross into the box, but chances were few and far between for the 2021 Copa America champions.

A frustrated Messi appeared drained as the match, at times, seemed beyond him, with the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner unable to inspire his compatriots to a memorable opening game of the competition.

The Saudis held out for an historic 2-1 win, stunning the world and leaving Argentina with it all to do in their remaining two group matches against Mexico and Poland. 

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