In what is being hailed as one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history Saudi Arabia, the 51st-ranked team in FIFA rankings, shocked one of the tournament’s favorites, Argentina, 2-1 in the opening match for both teams.
And it took a frenetic display at the goal line from Saudi Arabia, and keeper Mohammed Al-Owais, to preserve the upset.
Saudi Arabia took the lead in the 53rd minute, on a beautiful strike from Salem Al-Dawsari, but that set the stage for Argentina to push forward, and put an incredible amount of pressure on Al-Owais and company.
Their first scoring chance came in the 63rd minute. A cross in front of Al-Owais found the right foot of Argentinian defender Lisandro Martinez, who put a shot towards goal. That shot was deflected by fellow defender Nicolas Tagliafico, right in front of Al-Owais.
Somehow, some way, Al-Owais was able to turn it aside:
The effort from Al-Owais drew the attention of Chad Johnson, in Qatar as part of the FOX studio coverage:
What a save, are people up stateside watching this game❓
— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) November 22, 2022
Al-Owais’s save preserved the lead, but the pressure from Argentina was just beginning. The next threat? A free kick from the legendary Lionel Messi, still searching for his first World Cup. Messi, who scored on a penalty in the 10th minute of the match, had a chance to equalize on a free kick with time winding down. In the 80th minute Messi attempted a free kick from outside the box, but the rocket off his left foot was off the mark, and Saudi Arabia remained in the lead:
Argentina’s next threat, and perhaps their biggest scoring chance of the match, came in stoppage time. In the 92nd minute, a ball into the box drew Al-Owais off the line. The keeper’s clearance punch did not make it to safety, and instead found forward Julian Alvarez, who fired towards goal. Al-Owais was still down on the pitch, having collided with Nicolas Otamendi, and it looked like Alvarez might notch the equalizer.
But defender Abdulelah Al-Amri had other ideas:
Argentina still had time to equalize, and in the 100th minute, Al-Owais would be called upon again, using every inch of his frame to deny a header from Alvarez right in front of goal:
Soon, the whistle would blow for full-time, and Saudi Arabia had done it, knocking off Argentina in one of the most shocking results in World Cup history.