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Surprise as Saudi Arabia’s sheikhs shake Argentina

Lionel Messi (jersey number 10), reacts after the final whistle in their game against Saudi Arabia. Saudis beat Argentina 2-1.

The whole world was shell shocked yesterday after Saudi Arabia beat this year’s World Cup favourites Argentina.

The Saudi Arabians’ win ended the La Albiceleste’s unbeaten run in their previous 36 games heading into the tournament — a streak that stretched back to July 2019 and was just behind Italy’s world record 37-game run.

It was a direct replica of what happened in 2010 World Cup – where favourites Spain felt pain at the hands of Switzerland when the Switzerland beat the would be eventual winners by a solitary goal. However, this one will still have to be seen if the South Americans can replicate the feat set by their Spanish counterparts in South Africa, 2010.

In yesterday’s, the game started with both teams putting their best foot forward as the Argentines pressurised the Saudi’s defence more frequently. Their swashbuckling raids from the flanks (especially from the right flank, which was marshalled by Angel De Maria) bore fruit in the early minutes of the first half.

A foul in the Saudi’s six-yard box earned Argentina a penalty kick, which was slotted home by none other than talisman Lionel Messi. The lead came after just 10 minutes when Messi converted from the penalty spot-kick. That looked like being the fastest of several goals for the Albiceleste who dominated and had several goals ruled out for offside.

The first half goal by Messi put him to the history books as the first Argentina player to have scored in five different World Cup tournaments. The first half ended with Argentina leading the pack.

But things did not go as everyone had expected in the second half. The Saudi Arabians came back with a completely different mindset. They started to press the Argentines in the front, after destroying their midfield formation.

It didn’t last long before defensive lapsed by Romero and Otamendi gifted Saleh Al-Shehri the first goal for the Asians. In less than five minutes, Salem Al-Dawsari pulled another thunderbolt that found Aston Villa custodian, Martinez, napping.

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