Welcome to Sportstar’s highlights of the Argentina vs Saudi Arabia Qatar World Cup group stage match from the Lusail stadium.
SAUDI ARABIA HAS BEATEN ARGENTINA IN THE WORLD CUP IN A MAJOR UPSET!! Saudi Arabia beats Argentina 2-1 in its opening World Cup fixture.
Alvarez rose well for a looping header but Owaisi does well to dive at full stretch and make the save.
Saudi’s Al Shahrani is carried off the pitch on a stretcher. Mohammed Alburayk will replace him.
Saudi Arabia keeper Owaisi is involved in a painful clash with his own player Al Shahrani. It was a knee to the face and Al Shahrani is down on the ground. Play has halted.
Argentina throwing bodies forward but Saudi has everyone back on defensive duty.
Booking: Saudi keeper Owaisi sees yellow
CLOSE- Al Amri makes a goalline clearance to keep Saudi in the lead
Eight added minutes at the end of the second half.
Saudi Arabia sub: IN- Asiri, Al Amri OUT- Albrikan, Alabid
Booking: Saudi Arabia’s Alabid sees a yellow card.
Close- Messi gets a header away from close ranger after getting at the end of the cross but he could not connect well and Owaisi holds on to the ball.
Booking: Saudi’s Abdulhamid sees another yellow. Booking racking up for Saudi Arabia.
Lionel Messi goes for goal from the freekick but cannot keep his shot down. Saudi survives for now.
Saudi Arabia sub: IN- Al-Ghannam OUT- Al Shehri
Saudi Arabia thought they had snatched the ball in a good position in the right flank but Abdulhamid fouls Alvarez
Booking: Albulayhi is the latest player to see the yellow card.
Martinez and Owaisi in a race to reach the loose ball which the latter wins to clear the ball. Good anticipation by Owaisi to come off his line and clear the danger.
Acuna squares the ball to Messi at the edge of the box. Messi does well to find Di Maria under pressure. Di Maria goes for a low shot but Owaisi holds on to the ball.
Argentina sub: IN- Acuna OUT- Tagliafico
Booking: Saudi Arabia’s Almalki sees yellow
Messi rolls the ball to Alvarez down the left. Alvarez sends in a searching ball inside the box but it is too close to the keeper who collects the ball.
Saudi keeper Owaisi with a point-blank save to keep his team in the lead. He did well to maintain his composure in the crowded box.
Di Maria with a great cross and Martinez cannot get the telling touch. Saudi sends the ball out for a corner.
A drastic decision by Scaloni to change things. Argentina has 30 minutes and added time to get something from this match.
Argentina subs: IN- Alvarez, Enzo, Lisandro OUT- Gomez, Paredes, Romero
Argentina with a brilliant counter-attack. The ball falls to Messi but he cannot take the shot courtesy of a brilliant last minute challenge.
GOOALLL!!! SAUDI ARABIA TAKES THE LEAD!! AL DAWSARI SCORES!! He rides the challenge of a couple of Argentina players and goes for a curler at the far-post. Martinez got a touch but could not keep the ball out of the net. It was a brilliant finish by the player.
GOOOALLL!! SAUDI ARABIA EQUALIZES!! SALEH AL SHEHRI SCORES!! He does well to shield the ball from his marker and shoots across the face of the goal to slot the ball in the far post. Martinez made the dive but could not reach the ball.
Di Maria has taken a knock and is down on the ground. However, it is nothing serious and he should be okay to continue.
Argentina starts the second-half with a 1-0 lead courtesy of a Messi penalty.
Half-time stats for you!!
Lionel Messi’s penalty keeps Argentina ahead at the break. The Argentines saw three goals ruled out as offside.
Saudi Arabia sub: IN- Alabid OUT- Alfaraj. Skipper Alfaraj’s injury forces him out of the match as he leaves the pitch and gets a standing ovation from the Saudi fans.
De Paul had a good chance to find the teammate from the right side of the box. He squares the ball hoping to find a teammate but it is a disappointing one to be honest.
Five added minutes at the end of the first-half.
Messi tries to find Gomez on the left with a diagonal pass but ends up sending the ball to the keeper.
Messi swings a dangerous ball inside the Saudi box. The ball is headed away and falls to De Paul who goes for a first-time shot. However, he cannot keep his effort and the ball goes out of play for a Saudi goalkick.
Al Malki with a reckless challenge on Papu Gomez and Argentina has a freekick in a dangerous position.
De Paul finds Messi with a measured pass. Messi brings it down but cannot find the angle for a shot. The ball goes out of play for man Argentina corner.
Saudi’s Al Dawsari getting treatment by the medical staff. Looks like he has pulled a muscle.
OFFSIDE!!This is the third time an Argentina goal has been ruled out as offside. Messi slips the ball to Lautaro behind the Saudi defence. One-on-one with Owais, Lautaro rolled the ball around him and slotted the ball in the net only to see the goal being ruled out for offside. Nonetheless, a good finish.
Saudi with a good phase of pressure on the Argentina defence but La Albiceleste has maintained discipline in their defending till now.
GOAL RULED OUT!! OFFSIDE GIVEN AGAINST MARTINEZ! VAR had a check and the replay showed that Martinez was offside when the ball was played.
A loose pass at the back allows Saudi to get the ball but the Argentine defence recovers well. The play ultimately stops as Otamendi is fouled by
OFFSIDE!! Messi makes a good run behind the defence and is clear to run at the Saudi goal. He keeps his composure and slots the ball inside the net. However, celebrations are cut short as the assistant raises his flag for offside.
Lautaro breaks clear of the backline and makes a run towards the goal. His shot in the end is disappointing but it does not count as the player was offside when he made the run.
Aldawsari had a good chance to find a teammate after getting the ball in a good position near the Argentina box. However, the tight Argentine defence forces him to pass back.
Saudi Arabia had a good chance to create something from the freekick but the ball inside the box was easily dealt with by the Argentina defence. Paredes clears the ball away.
Di Maria is played a long ball on the right side. He is free but cannot keep the ball in play. It is a throw for Saudi Arabia.
PENALTY!! THE REFEREE TAKES A LOOK AT THE SCREEN AND GIVES THE PENALTY!!
There is a VAR check for a possible penalty. Paredes’ shirt was pulled and brought down inside the box. What a start to the match this is.
Messi’s swings a ball inside the box from the corner but Owais comes out and sends the ball away with a confident punch.
Argentina gets its first corner of the match. Lionel Messi to take it.
Save- Lionel Messi gets the ball inside the box and shoots at the goal. The shot, however, was straight at the Saudi keeper and he does well to get down and make the save.
AND WE ARE UNDERWAY!! Argentina kicks off its Qatar World Cup opener against Saudi Arabia.
3:27 PM: Teams sing their national anthem. Kick-off moments away. Stay tuned for all the live updates.
THE CRAZE IS REAL!!
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia: All You Need to Know
How can Messi’s Argentina shape up ahead of its World Cup opener against Saudi Arabia?
Lionel Messi, the undisputed king of football – even before kicking a ball here – will again set off on a quest for the holy grail at the Lusail Stadium, the grandest and largest of the eight 2022 World Cup grounds.
There’s an ever-hanging cloud of expectation around the Argentine star to deliver a performance of virtuoso to not only end the Latin American nation’s long wait for the World Cup, but to also deliver this World Cup its own folklore that will stand the test of immortality like the otherworldly stories of many South American authors.
Raising the anxiety level of the press corps and the followers of their dispatches in hundreds of nations, the 35-year-old was present for just four of the 15-minute open training session two days before this eagerly awaited match. An Achilles injury had kept the heartthrob away from a Champions League and a Ligue 1 game for Paris Saint-Germain just ahead of the tournament. But the news from the Argentina camp indicates the absence from training was more to do with managing the workload of the team’s standout luminary.
Lisandro Martinez, Rodrigo De Paul, Angel Di Maria, Nicolas Otamendi and Juan Foyth, too, were missing in this knockabout arranged for the hungry 400-odd media crowd.
Messi is, thankfully, expected to start, part of a forward triangle with Di Maria and Lautaro Martinez at its tip. Cristian Romero, enjoying a standout season with Tottenham, with his settled partner Otamendi and full-backs Nahuel Molina and Marcos Acuna, has ensured a clean sheet in Argentina’s last five victories, which saw the Albiceleste scoring 16 goals. Messi’s PSG teammate Leandro Paredes, sitting in the heart of the midfield, will offer extra cover to the defence, which has dealt with too few heavyweight oppositions in Argentina’s astonishing 35-match unbeaten run. Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister and De Paul will offer the attacking thrust as the nation looks to shrug off the disappointments of the past 36 years.
The attention of the football universe, however, will only be on one man. Messi, with 12 goals and 14 assists in 19 matches, is enjoying his best club form in his 19th season as a professional. In national colours, his returns are even more astounding this year with 11 goals in seven games.
Saudi Arabia – whose Crown Prince shared the opening ceremony grand stage with the Emir of the host nation, signalling a further improvement of relations since the end of the Gulf world’s four-year economic blockade of Qatar – will try to do more than making a guest appearance in this yet-to-release movie that the fans want to watch only for its hero.
Herve Renard’s men don’t have the most positive record in their last six games with three draws and a loss. The side will miss the experience of forward Fahad Al-Muwallad, who failed a dope test in May. Its threat will come from the links with Salem Al-Dawsari operating on the left and Saleh Al-Shehri on the other side.
But the world and football hope that Argentina will take the sting out of this Arabian attack and set Messi on for a World Cup triumph, which he so richly deserves.