Somehow, on Tuesday afternoon, a long time after Tuesday night, it turned out to be an unforeseen uproar by the crowds of fans in Saudi Arabia, many of whom had driven to the first World Cup in the Arab world. They welcomed a whipped goal from Saleh al-Shehri in the 48th minute and Salem al-Dawsari in the 53rd minute that will keep the primo stay in their memory. From those you’re kidding moments, they continued to sing and flourish through Argentina’s various threats until they rejoiced in a 2-1 win, even if they didn’t expect it.
“[Argentina] Came here and haven’t lost a game in 36 games,” said France coach Hervé Renard, 54, who has been in charge of Saudi Arabia since 2019. , who has also coached Zambia, Angola, Côte d’Ivoire and Morocco. “They are South American champions. [in the 2021 Copa America]. They have great players. But that’s football, sometimes things are completely crazy. “
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After an ethereal turnaround, he spoke eternal truths, like no other country in history, the United States over England in 1950, North Korea over Italy in 1966, Northern Ireland over Spain in 1982, Cameroon over Argentina in 1990, Senegal beat France 2002. Even fans of his gritty side, like any other fan of their Argentine opponents here, may harbor a daunting double allegiance to this Group C opener. They’ll be supporting their home country, of course, but they may already see themselves as the lucky ticket holders who presumably witnessed the last of five World Cups under Argentina’s 35-year-old global superstar, Lionel Messi.
From the start, a crowd of 88,012 gathered at the futuristic Lusail Stadium for Messi to admire. Completed in April 2021, the stadium saw its first goal at the World Cup when Saudi Arabia were awarded a penalty for some minor rough-and-tumble behavior in the box, which Messi, of course, took . Since making his debut as a teenager in 2006, he fired the ball straight to the left into a corner for the seventh World Cup goal of his career – all of which came in the group stage – in Argentina’s 1-0 win. During the game, everything looked normal.
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Everything looked normal after that, and being one of the favorites to win the whole match looked like it should be on the betting slip against a distant outsider. In an odd sequence from 22 minutes to 34 minutes, Argentina appeared to score three goals and Messi two, all easily breaking through Saudi Arabia’s high defense, leaving the Argentine almost exclusively to goalkeeper Mohamed Owai It’s gone.
Well, all three were ruled offside, two of them immediately with the flag up and one after a VAR review. The score of 1-0 entered halftime.
Former Argentine player Lionel Scaloni, who has coached the Argentine team since 2018, is telling the truth: “Some decisions are hard to move.”
“At that point, if we conceded the second goal,” Leonard said, “I think it’s game over.”
If anything, the ease of the Argentines may have worked against them. The second half gave them something they didn’t expect, stammering back. “Sometimes your opponent isn’t at his best,” Leonard said. “It’s normal…can you imagine Lionel Messi telling him against Saudi Arabia, ‘We have to start well’, it’s not like he was against Brazil. This [difference] is normal. Argentina “dominated the first half”, as Scaloni said, with offsides making the game “weird”. “
The game gets weird; one goal turns the tables, and that’s how things go.
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In the 48th minute, after the Saudis had the ball in midfield, Al-Shaihri received a long pass from Abdulah Malki and dribbled past defender Christian Romero above the penalty area for a fine shot with his left foot. A ball past goalkeeper Amy Martinez into the far corner equalized. Contest. It turned the stadium from a din to an unspeakable din, a sound that might have welcomed some dazzling Messi goals but was now welcoming something else entirely.
Four minutes later, the Saudis suddenly found themselves filling a packed box with the ball swirling around as the Argentine defense faltered. When Dawsari received the ball, evaded the challenge, and fired into the far corner, scanning the desperate palm of Martinez, things got very confusing.
From there, Owais and Saudi Arabia continued to attack them heavily, but only two appeared to be flashing red. In the 62nd minute, Ovais saved Nicolás Tagliafico’s close-range shot from Lisandro Martinez’s cross into the box. With another two minutes of stoppage time, Owais came on to shake off some trouble as celebrations approached, before finally allowing Julian Alvarez to head home. Abdulelah al-Amri headed the ball over the baseline and kept his own place in future legends.
“I really know every minute of this game,” Ovas said, “and I’m really happy.” Plus: “Honestly, I think we’re good, especially at the end…”
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In the last moments, Messi tried often but was not threatening. The whole meaning of his World Cup has changed, just as the whole World Cup has changed for the fans next door. The final whistle blew to end 14 minutes of overtime, partly due to a lengthy injury delay. The Saudi players stumbled onto the pitch, looking elated. The Argentines in the stands put their heads in their hands. The clamor of the Saudi fans rang out again, and anyone who filmed their video nearby probably felt some non-alcoholic beer dripping down their cheeks.
“I feel so relieved,” Leonard began his comments.
“… un batacazo histórico en Qatar…” the headline in Clarin, Argentina’s largest newspaper, saw the historic jolt.
“It’s hard to digest,” Scaloni said. “In five minutes, they scored two goals. I think they had two shots on goal. But we have to recover from the defeat in the next two games [against Mexico and Poland], hoping to emulate Spain in 2010, a champion who lost its opener. “And we don’t need to do more. It’s a sad day, but…”
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“It’s something special,” Leonard said of what he told his players. “When you’re a small team, when you’re a neighbor of Qatar and there are a lot of fans in the stadium, like all the Saudis who come today, you need to think about them. You need to think about the 35 million Saudis in the country, i tell them [the players] life will stop today [in Saudi Arabia], because they’re looking for something different. “
It’s almost unbelievable how different they are from what the world gets.
This story has been updated.
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