Doha (Qatar), Nov 22: The 2022 FIFA World Cup is billed as Lionel Messi’s last one and arguably his best shot to win the one trophy missing from his collection. But on Tuesday his ambition to lay hands on the glittering trophy suffered a huge blow as the South American giants crashed to a shocking 2-1 loss at the hand of minnows Saudi Arabia in the Group C opener.
On Tuesday, none of the 88,012 spectators at the Losail stadium, the arena which will host the final on December 18, had the faintest of thoughts of the Asian minnows upstaging their famous rivals when the match kicked off. But in the end, an upset result did happen, with Saudi Arabia walking away with full points thanks to goals from Saleh Al and Salem Al Dawsari.
The match had everything you could have asked for which kept everyone on their toes.
A goal within the first ten minutes of the match, VAR coming into play twice in the opening half -- first time Argentina earned a penalty and the second going in Favour of Saudi Arabia, with a goal ruled as offside.
A lot happened in the first half of the opening match of Group C between reigning Copa America champions and the Asian giants.
Argentina struck a game plan of putting up loads of men upfront, well-spaced, with one on each touchline.
A second-minute move stitched together by Angel Di Maria and Lautaro Martinez gave an insight into things to follow. With six players upfront, Di Maria, using the width on the right, crossed it to Martinez, only for the ball to run loose -- and onto the left leg of the onrushing Messi.
The mercurial 35-year-old made the connection but could not bend inside the far corner, but found Mohammed Alowais in the way, who dived to deflect the ball away from the goal.
Argentina’s attacking play yielded results. Messi, who was entrusted with a free-kick on the left flank set up Rodrigo De Paul on the edge, who shot into a defender. The referee went to consult VAR and Saud Abdulhamid was adjudged as having brought down Leandro Paredes, resulting in a penalty for Argentina.