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Saudi Arabia stun Argentina in World Cup opener

Saudi Arabia stun Argentina.

Saudi Arabia have stunned Argentina and Lionel Messi by beating them 2-1 in their World Cup opener in Qatar.

Argentina went into the game as strong favourites, having not lost in their last 36 matches, and it was Messi who kicked off his fifth World Cup by giving his side the lead.

The inspirational captain stepped up to the penalty spot after 10 minutes to put Argentina 1-0 ahead, and the South Americans would go on to have the ball in the net on a further three occasions in the first half.

However, all three times they were thwarted by VAR, giving Saudi Arabia reason for hope ahead of the second half.

Saudi Arabia turnaround.

The Asian side came straight out of the blocks in the second 45, with Saleh Al-Shehri taking just three minutes to score past Emi Martinez with a neat finish.

Five minutes later, it was 2-1 to Saudi Arabia, after Salem Al-Dawsari controlled a ball beautifully before turning a couple of Argentinian defenders and firing into the net, sparking ecstatic scenes among players, staff and supporters at the Lusail Stadium.

Saudi Arabia finished the game with some heroic displays of defending, and some magnificent saves from goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais, to keep Argentina at bay.

Lionel Messi.

Much of the pre-match talk was about Messi kicking off what could be his final World Cup, with numerous fans around the globe hoping he can seal his legacy by lifting the trophy.

At every previous World Cup appearance, the seven-time Ballon d’Or-winner has carried the weight of never having won a trophy with his country, but that monkey was removed from his back when he led Argentina to the Copa America last year.

Next up for Argentina.

Of course, the dream of emulating Diego Maradona is still alive, but it was far from the ideal start for Lionel Scaloni’s team.

There are still six points available for Argentina in Group C, with a match against Mexico on Saturday to be followed up with a meeting with Poland next Wednesday.

While Mexico and Poland will welcome Argentina dropping points, both will have to face a Saudi Arabian side buoyed by a famous win and very much in contention to qualify from the group.

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