In a terrible start for one of the FIFA World Cup favourites, Argentina lost 3 crucial points to Saudi Arabia in the first Group C fixture. The match ended 1-2 in favour of Saudi Arabia, a team sitting at the 51st position in FIFA’s global rankings.
The match, itself, was a roller coaster for the South American side and Saudi’s win brings a disappointing end to Argentina’s 3-year and 36-match unbeaten run.
The fixture began on a high for Messi’s side with a penalty being awarded to them in the first 10 minutes of the game.
The penalty came as a result of VAR wherein the referee spotted Parades being fouled in the penalty area during a corner kick.
And Lionel Messi grabbed the chance to slot the ball into the bottom left corner while sending Saudi’s keeper, Al Owais, in the opposite direction.
Argentina dominated the pitch for the first 45 minutes and ensured that the Saudis remained on the defensive.
However, the first half did bring out frustrations for the South American team. When a team scores 3 goals only for them to be disallowed by the referee, it is bound to play with their minds. That’s right. 3 disallowed goals.
Fans will feel for the Argentinian striker Martinez who managed to chip the ball over Owais on his first attempt at the goal and slide it past the keeper into the net on a subsequent attempt, only to have the goals disallowed on account of the player crossing the offside line early.
The Argentina captain also managed to push past the goalkeeper on one count, but Argentina could not celebrate that goal either, thanks to VAR.
At the risk of adding fuel to a fire, Argentina’s offsides were, indeed, matters of centimetres, and should be a worthy mention in light of the controversy surrounding the use of VAR in football games.
The second half of the game was an entirely different story where the tide turned in favour of Saudi.
To be fair, the team did fight tooth and nail to win, and that is evident from the 5 yellow cards awarded to the team, including one to the keeper.
Early into the second half of the game, Saudi really turned up the heat with a phenomenal goal from Al Shehri on the counter. Neither Romero nor Martinez managed to stop the ball as jersey number 11 shot it into the far-right corner.
And in the next 5 minutes, the middle eastern team took the lead with a banger from Messi’s jersey number 10 counterpart for Saudi, Al Dawsari, from the left corner of the penalty area into the far post.
Saudi’s last man, Owais, does deserve a special mention in the game. The keeper successfully blocked the relentless attempts at the goal, including a few, right on the goal line.
It’s also worth mentioning that Saudi Arabia is only the second non-European team to clinch a win against Argentina, a two-time FIFA World Cup Champion, in the World Cup in 32 years and this is the first time in over 25 years that Saudi Arabia have won at the World Cup.
Therefore, make no mistake, Argentina’s loss against Saudi is, in fact, a historical feat.
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