A bold and brilliant Saudi Arabia pulled off one of the World Cup’s biggest shocks as they came from behind to stun two-time winners Argentina 2-1 in a fantastic FIFA World Cup Group C opener in Lusail.
Ranked 51st in the world, Saudi Arabia could have been done and dusted in the first half as Lionel Messi opened the scoring from the penalty spot before Argentina had three goals ruled out for offside.
But Saudi Arabia flipped the game on its head in a stunning 10-minute period after half-time, Saleh Al-Shehri levelling with a low effort and Salem Al Dawsari firing them ahead to spark pandemonium in the stands.
Having shown their ruthlessness at one end, the Green Falcons demonstrated a ruggedness at the other, holding a stellar Argentina front line at bay to secure only their fourth World Cup win in history and throw the group wide open.
Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina came into the tournament among the favourites, on the back of a 36-game unbeaten run that included winning the 2021 Copa America.
They now have it all to do to keep alive their hopes of a first global triumph since 1986 and give Messi a fitting ending to what is very likely his World Cup swansong.
They face Mexico on Saturday, while Saudi Arabia take on Poland.
Denmark 0, Tunisia 0
Denmark were held to a draw by Tunisia in their World Cup opener in a raucous atmosphere at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan.
Despite fielding many Premier League regulars, the much-fancied Danes were given a tough workout in Group D.
Christian Eriksen, appearing for Denmark having suffered a cardiac arrest in their opening game of Euro 2020 only last summer, was mostly well shackled, although he did draw a fine save from Aymen Dahmen in the second half.
Both sides had goals ruled out for offside, while Denmark’s Andreas Cornelius somehow missed from a yard.
There was 95th-minute drama when referee Cesar Ramos checked the pitchside monitor over a potential Denmark penalty for handball, only to stick with his original decision.
Poland 0, Mexico 0
Robert Lewandowski had a penalty saved as Poland and Mexico played out a goalless World Cup draw at a fervent Stadium 974.
Captain Lewandowski has never scored in the tournament and his wait continues after a tame effort was kept out by Mexico’s veteran goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
The 40 000-capacity venue was filled largely by raucous Mexico supporters and deafening cheers rung round when Lewandowski’s shot stayed out.
A forgettable first half saw Alexis Vega head narrowly wide and the only effort on target came when Jorge Sanchez’s shot from the angle was pushed away by Wojciech Szczesny.
Hirving Lozano’s curling effort from range was straight at the Poland goalkeeper, before the game finally sparked into life in the second half.
But both sides had to settle for a draw after Ochoa, 37, dived the right way to keep out Barcelona striker Lewandowski’s penalty, awarded after the referee watched a replay on the pitchside monitor. (BBC)