World Cup stunner: Saudi Arabia beats Argentina 2-1

A dejected Lionel Messi of Argentina reacts during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at Lusail Stadium on November 22, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)

Lionel Messi and Argentina were on the receiving end of one of the biggest stunners in World Cup history Tuesday, as Saudi Arabia pulled off a monumental 2-1 upset at Lusail Stadium.

Argentina's 36-match unbeaten run ended at the Lusail Stadium in Messi's fifth —and likely last— World Cup.

After putting his team into the lead with a first-half penalty in what was expected to be its easiest Group C clash, Messi was powerless to prevent a remarkable Saudi fightback that leaves Argentina in a precarious position after only one game.

On 48 minutes, Saleh Al-Shehri produced a low effort to level the score against the run of play, before Salem Al-Dawsari uncorked a spectacular right-foot strike from the edge of the penalty area that flew into the Argentina net.

Argentina national football team

From there, Argentina tried furiously to get back level.

Messi and company launched wave after wave of attack, but to no avail.

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Saudi goalkeeper Mohammad Al-Owais was masterful — sometimes steady, sometimes exhilarating — with acrobatic saves and sprints from his area to clear away trouble.

Deep into injury-time, the keeper was involved in a scary moment that momentarily silenced the crowd. Al-Owais came flying off his line to punch the ball the clear, and his knee collided with the chin of teammate Yasser Al-Shahrani with terrifying force, causing minutes of medical attention and Al-Shahrani's substitution.

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Before time was up, Abdulelah Al-Amri headed one off the line and Al-Owais leaped athletically to pluck a looping header from Julian Alvarez, to seal the win.

The Paris Saint-Germain star shook hands with a Saudi coaching staff member after the final whistle and stood with his hands on his hips near the center circle, an all-too familiar scene for one of the best players ever who is yet to win the biggest prize in soccer.

With Fox Sports and the Associated Press