(VFAB) — Saudi Arabia produced one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history Tuesday, beating Lionel Messi’s Argentina 2-1 in an astonishing Group C match.
Argentina, ranked third in the world and unbeaten for three years, was among the favorites to win the tournament. Saudi Arabia was ranked 51st.
All the pre-match talk focused on Messi, one of the greatest players ever, who is playing in what is likely to be his last World Cup. The Argentina captain scored an early penalty to put his side in the lead, but two second-half goals from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari turned the game on its head.
Al Dawsari’s incredible winner from distance — and subsequent acrobatic celebration — will become one of the moments of this or any World Cup.
As full-time neared, fans cheered every tackle and save as if they were goals and, when the match did indeed end, Saudi Arabia fans reacted with frenzy.
Both sets of players sunk to their knees, from disbelief and exhaustion. Messi, who so many had come see play, looked distraught as he walked off with Saudi fans cheering his name ironically.
According to sports data group Gracenote, which is a Nielsen company, Tuesday’s result was the biggest upset in the history of the competition, surpassing USA’s 1950 victory over England.
Argentina will hope to recover against Mexico in its next group match on Saturday, while Saudi Arabia faces Poland.
Denmark 0, Tunisia 0: In the second match of the day, Christian Eriksen made his return to major international football. In June, the Manchester United midfielder suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed on the pitch at the European Championships.
Tunisia, which had the backing of tens of thousands of fans, held on for an impressive point. Denmark improved in the second half and had a goal ruled out for offside before substitute Andreas Cornelius was denied by the post.
The Danes also had a last-minute penalty appeal turned down.
Poland 0, Mexico 0: Another goalless game followed, but it also wasn’t without drama, as Poland star Robert Lewandowski had a penalty saved.
The forward had been brought down by Hector Moreno in the second half, but he was denied his first World Cup goal as Guillermo Ochoa produced a superb save from the spot kick.
France 4, Australia 1: In the last match of the day, reigning champion France recovered from a shaky start.
The Aussies took a surprise lead after Craig Goodwin fired his effort into the roof of the net, but it only served as a wake up call to the French team.
Adrien Rabiot and Olivier Giroud struck back in quick succession as France began to purr.
Star striker Kylian Mbappe, who was unstoppable at times, added a third in the second half before providing a wonderful assist for Giroud’s second of the night.
The 23-year-old breezed past the Australian defense down the wing and teed up his strike partner to nod home. Mbappe knew how good that assist was, standing arms aloft in front of the French fans.
Giroud is now level with Thierry Henry as France’s joint all-time top scorer with 51 goals.