Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia: Herve Renard's men inflict massive shock on one of the World Cup 2022 favourites and end their 36-match unbeaten run

Lionel Messi's early penalty put Lionel Scaloni's side ahead, but shortly after the break, clinical finishes from Saleh Al Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari turned the game on its head and a resolute defensive display ensured that victory was secured.

By Alex Bowmer Published: 22 November 2022 - 10.55pm
Enzo Fernandez, Lionel Messi and Julian Alvarez look dejected during Argentina's game against Saudi Arabia

Argentina suffered one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history as their 36-match unbeaten run came to an end in dramatic fashion against Saudi Arabia in Lusail.

Lionel Messi seemed to have put the Albiceleste on a predictable path to victory by scoring his 91st international goal from the spot inside 10 minutes after Saud Abdulhamid was penalised for holding Leandro Paredes, and Messi also had an effort ruled out for offside in the first half, while Lautaro Martinez was himself denied twice by the linesman's flag. 

However, seemingly galvanised by manager Herve Renard's half-time team talk, the Green Falcons stunned their illustrious opponents twice within the space of five minutes. 

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Saleh Al Shehri drew his nation level, driving into the box and squeezing his strike into the far corner from a tight angle, before Nawad Al Abed's blocked shot was brought out of the sky by Salem Al Dawsari, who then twisted and turned to leave several Argentina players in knots before sensationally curling beyond Emiliano Martinez to turn the match on its head. 

Saudi racked up six bookings in the second half as they tried their best (understandably) to break up the contest, with goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais getting down smartly to divert Nicolas Tagliafico's close-range effort away from danger.

More than 13 minutes of stoppage time were played as Argentina desperately looked for late leveller, but the South Americans failed to equal Italy's record for the longest-ever unbeaten international streak as their underdog opponents were overcome with emotion at the final whistle. 

The victory was just the third for the Kingdom at a World Cup, following wins over Belgium and Morocco in the USA in 1994.

In recent years, the tournament has been synonymous with disappointment for them, including a demoralising 8-0 thrashing at the hands of Germany in 2002.

But now, the 51st-ranked side in the world can look forward to a meeting with Poland on Saturday knowing that anything is possible.