A bold and brilliant Saudi Arabia pulled off one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history as they came from behind to stun two-time winners Argentina in a fantastic Group C opener in Lusail.
Ranked 51st in the world, Saudi Arabia could have been done and dusted in the first half as Lionel Messi opened the scoring from the penalty spot before Argentina had three goals ruled out for offside.
But Saudi Arabia flipped the game on its head in a stunning 10-minute period after half-time, Saleh Al-Shehri levelling with a low effort and Salem Al Dawsari firing them ahead to spark pandemonium in the stands.
Having shown their ruthlessness at one end, the Green Falcons demonstrated a ruggedness at the other, holding a stellar Argentina front line at bay to secure only their fourth World Cup win and throw the group wide open.
Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina came into the tournament among the favourites, on the back of a 36-game unbeaten run that included winning the 2021 Copa America.
They now have it all to do to keep alive their hopes of a first global triumph since 1986 and give Messi a fitting ending to what is very likely his World Cup swansong.
They face Mexico on Saturday, while Saudi Arabia take on Poland.
One of the World Cup’s biggest shocks
Well, who saw this coming?
Argentina were among the elite teams heading to Qatar – tipped by many to go all the way, with a star-studded squad as robust at the back as they are ruthless in attack.
In 2018 in Russia they were chaos personified, chopping managers before the event and starting XIs during it before going out in the last 16.
But under Scaloni they got their act together in a serious way. They do not concede many and score lots – in five games before the World Cup they kept five clean sheets and netted 16 times – and had not tasted defeat since losing to Brazil in the final of the 2019 Copa America.
That run is now over and in spectacular, humbling fashion.
In contrast to their opponents, few saw Saudi Arabia making a dent at this tournament. Only Ghana of the 32 nations in attendance rank lower. They had three victories before this, but none of them bigger.
At full-time, in wild scenes, their players dropped to the turf, hugged and screamed into the sky as the bench charged on to the pitch to join them, weaving their way past disconsolate Argentina players.