Saudi Arabia goal

The start of what’s likely to be Lionel Messi’s final World Cup for Argentina began disastrously with arguably the most shocking upset in World Cup history.

Saudi Arabia overcame a 1-0 deficit at halftime and scored twice in the first eight minutes of the second half to win 2-1, stunning one of the heavy favorites to win the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Messi opened the scoring in the 10th minute on a controversial video replay that awarded Argentina a penalty kick. Saleh Al-Shehri equalized in the 49th minute before Salem Al-Dawsari put the Saudis ahead with a beautiful goal that sent the Saudi fans at Lusail Stadium into a frenzy.

In the 101st minute, Argentina nearly had an equalizer until Mohammed Al-Owais soared to save the header from Julián Álvarez

Argentina and Saudi Arabia were positioned third and 51st respectively in the FIFA World Rankings.

Saudi Arabia deployed a high defensive line that Argentina ultimately couldn’t solve. In the first half alone, Argentina scored three goals that were disallowed after the player was ruled offside.

Entering Tuesday, Argentina had only lost twice in 46 World Cup matches (39-5-2) when scoring first. Argentina hadn’t lost in 36 straight matches before falling to the Saudis.

At 35, this is almost certainly Messi’s final World Cup. This was also thought to be the best roster Argentina has had in Messi’s five trips to the tournament.

What made the loss somewhat ironic is Messi has been a promoter of tourism in Saudi Arabia, which is reportedly bidding against Argentina for the 2030 World Cup.

In a group with a depleted Mexico team, a Poland squad ranked 26th in the world, and the Saudis, Argentina was expected to cruise to the round of 16. Now they’ll have to sweat it out in what will feel like must-win games against Mexico and Poland just to advance.

The shocking opening-game loss reverberated around the soccer world like a tsunami. Considering Saudi Arabia was obliterated by Russia in the 2018 World Cup opening match, this result couldn’t have been more surprising.