It wasn’t meant to be like this for Lionel Messi.
Thought of by many because the world’s biggest participant, the Argentina playmaker has suffered a nightmare begin to the World Cup in Qatar.
And if an image can say a thousand phrases, then you definately solely want to have a look at Messi’s face as issues fell aside for his group.
Rank outsiders Saudi Arabia scored two objectives in a frantic 5 minutes early within the second half of the group stage recreation to stun one of many World Cup favourites.
The two-1 loss means Argentina – one of many Cup favourites with Brazil and France – could possibly be eradicated in the event that they lose to Mexico subsequent.
Former Liverpool defender Jason McAteer known as it the best upset in world soccer historical past in the course of the Bein Sports activities protection.
From there, Argentina seemed rattled and a few determined final ditch defending from the Saudis saved the South People at bay.
Not that Argentina – and Messi specifically – didn’t have probabilities to alter the sport.
He was denied by a determined sort out by Ali Al Bulayhi, whereas he had a header simply saved by Mohammed Al Owais within the 84th minute.
Deep in stoppage time Messi had the ball within the field, however couldn’t get a shot away.
It was in stark distinction to the primary half, the place Argentina seemed in full management and Messi scored to present his facet the lead.
The official FIFA World Cup Twitter account even tweeted “2022 already feels totally different” after Messi scored from the spot, after his penalty was saved within the corresponding recreation in opposition to Iceland in 2018.
He grew to become the primary Argentine to attain in 4 World Cups together with his straightforward strike, after Argentina was awarded a controversial penalty via VAR.
From there Argentina had two objectives rightly dominated out for offside, however appeared in management.
Then all chaos erupted and the Lusail Stadium – which can host the World Cup remaining – went into meltdown.
First Saleh Al Shehri scored with Saudi Arabia’s first shot on track within the recreation within the forty eighth minute, earlier than Salem Al Dawsari gave the underdogs the lead with a candy strike within the 53rd minute.
It’s a consequence that simply shouldn’t have occurred. Argentina is ranked third on the planet, the Saudis 51st.
Argentina was unbeaten in 36 video games coming into the conflict, and it was the primary time it had conceded two objectives in a gap recreation since 1974.
However after lacklustre performances from Iran and Qatar, Saudi Arabia confirmed that not the entire Asian groups can be pushovers this World Cup.
Saudi Arabia seemed shaky within the first half, enjoying a excessive line of defense, however confirmed extra combat than Iran and Qatar mixed.
As soon as Saudi Arabia had the lead, the Falcons defended like males possessed as Argentina struggled to seek out a solution.
It was a nightmare begin to the World Cup in what can be Messi’s final likelihood to elevate the trophy.
“It’s in all probability my final World Cup, my final likelihood to land this nice dream that all of us have,” Messi stated earlier than the match kicked off.
Messi, thought-about by many to be the best participant of all time, has loved a trophy-laden profession however is but to win the largest prize of all.
The 35-year-old ahead has already performed in 4 World Cups, together with the 2014 remaining, however has thus far did not match the achievement of fellow Argentine nice Diego Maradona, who captained the facet to glory in 1986.
Now Argentina has to beat Mexico or Messi’s dream of World Cup glory could possibly be over endlessly.
– With AFP