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Saudi Arabia produce first big upset of FIFA World Cup 2022 as they defeat Argentina

Saudi Arabia produce first big upset of FIFA World Cup 2022 as they defeat Argentina

Saudi Arabia produce first big upset of FIFA World Cup 2022 as they defeat Argentina
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By Reuters Nov 22, 2022 7:13:08 PM IST (Updated)

Saudi Arabia produced the biggest upset of the FIFA World Cup 2022 so far as they overcame a 1-goal deficit to defeat pre-tournament favorites Argentina at Lusail Iconic Stadium on Tuesday. The defeat also halted Argentina's 36-match streak in which they went undefeated.

Saudi Arabia scored a shock upset against Argentina in the World Cup on Tuesday with a 2-1 victory over Lionel Messi's side which sent pride across the Arab World.

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On his fifth and final quest for the only major trophy to elude him, the 35-year-old Messi scored a 10th-minute penalty in a dominant first-half display where he and Lautaro Martinez also had three goals disallowed for offside.
But Saudi Arabia, the second-lowest ranked team in the tournament after Ghana, threw caution to the wind at the start of the second half, charging at Argentina's defence in front of a frenzied 88,012 crowd.
Saleh Al-Shehri squeezed in a low shot in the 48th minute while Salem Al-Dawsari curled in a scorching strike from the edge of the penalty area in the 53rd minute to leave Argentina and Messi looking utterly shell-shocked in the Group C opener.
Despite plenty of possession, Argentina were unable to penetrate Saudi Arabia, who were competing in their sixth World Cup but had never previously won an opening game.
"Wow. I have all the feelings right now. We beat Argentina, one of the great teams! Our guys played so well — everything went right inside the stadium today. It was amazing," said Saad, a Saudi who is here from Riyadh for two weeks and wore a green Saudi Falcons scarf around his neck.
The entire game was played in an extraordinary atmosphere at the Lusail Stadium, with Argentina's traditionally massive and raucous following matched by the thousands of Saudis who had come over the border to cheer on their team.
Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who attended the game, raised a Saudi flag.
Before the end of the match, the issue of tolerance came up at a news conference between the Qatari foreign minister and his American counterpart. Qatar has come under criticism over treatment of workers and the LGBT+ community.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it was "always concerning" to hear of limits on freedom of expression at World Cup games in Qatar, after FIFA threatened yellow cards for players if they wear armbands with rainbow-like colours.
"It's especially so when the expression is for diversity and for inclusion," said Blinken, who watched the U.S. team's first match on Monday in Doha and also met with his Qatari counterpart for the U.S.-Qatari strategic dialogue.
Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup but the small nation has come under intense pressure in recent years for its position on workers rights and restrictive social laws.
Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani has said the Gulf Arab state welcomes everyone. "Its doors are open. Let us focus on football and what's happening on the pitch."
British foreign minister James Cleverly on Tuesday said he raised the issues about being a welcoming World Cup host with Qatar during a visit for the start of the tournament, amid reports that fans wearing rainbow clothing had faced problems.
"I've just returned from Qatar. We raised the issues of being a welcoming host nation and the Qataris are very keen to do so," Cleverly told Reuters.
"My duty is to make sure that the English and Welsh fans that are in Qatar to enjoy the football are able to do so: enjoy themselves, be themselves, and be safe and secure whilst they're doing it."
The Gulf Arab state of Qatar's new roads and transport system was put to the test on Tuesday when four World Cup matches are played in and around the capital, Doha.
Doha, which expects to manage a wave of 1.2 million visitors during the month-long tournament, has promised that fans can take more than one match in one day, an innovation for the World Cup which has traditionally been played across several cities.
In the late morning, clusters of Saudi and Argentinian fans chanted on metro trains headed north to the 80,000-capacity and largest stadium at Lusail.
The games, which will be held in stadiums with capacity for between 40,000 and 80,000 people, are starting next to the northernmost station on the Doha metro at Lusail and working their way south to end with the fourth match at Al Janoub stadium, a 5-km bus ride from the metro's southern terminus at Al Wakrah.
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