Saudi Arabia caused the first big sensation at the World Cup in Qatar against tournament favorite Argentina. In Group C, coach Hervé Renard's team beat Lionel Messi's team. The 1:2 (1:0) bankruptcy of the co-favorites was nothing less than a bitter humiliation for the superstar.
This puts Lionel Messi's accomplishment in jeopardy early on and unexpectedly. The 35-year-old played his fifth and probably last world championship, in his previous four attempts he had always failed. Like in 2014, when Germany scored 1-0 a.e.t. in the Rio final. had triumphed.
But this time everything should be different. And it started well. Messi personally gave Argentina an early lead in the Lusail Stadium with a controversial penalty kick (10th minute). Leandro Paredes was knocked down in the penalty area. But things didn't go so well. Argentina were subsequently disallowed three goals for offside before the substitution.
After the break, the hitherto completely harmless Saudis turned the game around within five minutes. Saleh Al-Shehri (48') and Salem Al-Dausari (53') scored the goals. The first shot on goal was right on target. As so often in previous World Cups, the Argentine defense revealed gaps. With a powerful shot into the far corner, Al-Shehri transformed the stadium in Lusail Stadium into an Arabic decibel temple. Nothing more was heard from the Argentine fans. And things got even worse for them when Al-Dausari put Saudi Arabia ahead with a dream goal.
After falling behind, the Albiceleste were unsuccessful against the consistently defending outsiders. The end was dramatic, but the underdog survived a total of 14 minutes of stoppage time.
"Incredible, but true," wrote the Argentine sports newspaper "Olé" right after the end of the game. “We lost, it was because of our own mistakes. We should have scored more than one goal in the first half," said Argentina's Lautaro Martínez: "We'll try to fix the mistakes next time." Despite the disgrace, the team is still "highly motivated," said the 25-year-old: "We want to progress and have to see what kind of mistakes we made.”
In the next group game next Saturday against Mexico, Argentina, who traveled to Qatar with 36 games without defeat, are under a lot of pressure not to have to leave again after the group stage after the ignominious knockout round in Russia in 2018. At the end of the preliminary round, it's against Poland for star striker Robert Lewandowski.