Saudi Arabia Defeats Lionel Messi and Argentina in Seismic World Cup Upset

Saudi Arabia's players celebrate the victory 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.
Saudi Arabia's players celebrate the victory 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.

Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Saudi Arabia's players celebrate

Saudi Arabia is celebrating one of the biggest shocks in FIFA World Cup history.

In a stunning comeback at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar Tuesday, the Saudi soccer team reversed a 1-0 half-time deficit against two-time winners Argentina to close out the game 2-1.

Ranked 51st in the world, Saudi Arabia likely feared the worst as Lionel Messi opened the scoring in the 10th minute from the penalty spot.

The star-studded Argentina team — currently ranked No. 3 in the world behind Brazil and Belgium — then applied the pressure, having three goals ruled out for offside.

A stunning five-minute period in the second half changed the complexion of the match entirely for the Green Falcons. First, Saleh Al-Shehri leveled the score with a low shot in the 48th minute. Then forward Salem Al Dawsari hit a powerful shot into the top corner past goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez in the 53rd minute.

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Saudi Arabia players celebrate the 2-1 win 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.
Saudi Arabia players celebrate the 2-1 win 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.

Shaun Botterill - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Saudi Arabia's players celebrate

Despite a fierce counter from Argentina, Saudi Arabia held on to protect their goal and claim just their fourth World Cup finals win ever. At full-time, the players hugged, danced, dropped to the grass in celebration and prayed, while the rest of their squad sprinted onto the pitch to join them.

For Argentina, the defeat is the team's first loss since they played Brazil in the final of the 2019 Copa America — a stretch of 36 games.

It leaves the pre-tournament favorites with an uphill fight to remain in the tournament, which is likely to be 35-year-old Messi's last appearance at a World Cup.

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November 22, 2022, Doha: Doha, Qatar, 22nd November 2022. Lionel Messi of Argentina dejected during the FIFA World Cup 2022 match at Lusail Stadium, Doha.
November 22, 2022, Doha: Doha, Qatar, 22nd November 2022. Lionel Messi of Argentina dejected during the FIFA World Cup 2022 match at Lusail Stadium, Doha.

David Klein/Cal Sport Media via AP Images Lionel Messi reacts to defeat

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Argentina will now face Mexico on Saturday, while Saudi Arabia takes on Poland. While the result has made life more difficult, it does not mean Argentina's dream of winning the 2022 World Cup has gone for good.

At the 1990 World Cup in Italy, Argentina lost their opening game 1-0 to Cameroon but eventually went on to reach the final of their tournament (where they lost 1-0 to West Germany).

Despite this, they will now go down in history as losers of the biggest World Cup shock since Algeria defeated the mighty West Germany 2-1 in 1982.