Saudi Arabia’s historic World Cup victory against Argentina was halted in the closing stages of stoppage time after a horror injury suffered by Yasir Al-Shahrani. The defender’s heroic performance was cut painfully short after he took a huge blow to his face from his own goalkeeper’s knee.
Saudi Arabia stunned one of the tournament favourites at the Lusail Stadium, overcoming a first half on the ropes to fight back and produce one of the World Cup’s biggest-ever shocks. Lionel Messi fired Argentina ahead from the penalty spot early on and was also the scorer of one of the South American’s three disallowed goals before the break.
They were expected to push on and record a statement win to begin their campaign in the second half, but the Saudis shocked the world by netting with their only two shots on target in the first 10 minutes after the restart. Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari entered World Cup folklore with their match-winning strikes, but a late incident at the other end put a dampener on the result.
Herve Renard’s side were fighting for their lives to stay ahead after the fourth official announced eight minutes of stoppage time. And as Mohammed Al-Owais, monstrous in the Saudi goal, charged out to claim a chipped pass into his box, he accidentally floored Al-Shahrani with a powerful knee to the face at high speed.
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The frantic Lusail Stadium crowd fell silent as the 30-year-old lay still on the ground, with Al-Owais turning away, looking inconsolable. But there were mass cheers as Al-Shahrani rose back to his feet and gave the thumbs up before being stretchered off and replaced by Mohammed Al-Burayk.
Saudi Arabia held on for their first World Cup win since 1994, dealing a significant blow to Argentina’s aspirations of qualifying for the knockout stages as Group C winners. But the nation will have high hopes that Al-Shahrani is in good health and will be able to play a part in the rest of their campaign.
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A mammoth following roared the Middle Eastern outfit on as they produced an immovable defensive display to hold onto their lead. Amidst the panic over Al-Shahrani’s late injury, Argentina were denied by a series of incredible saves and a goal-line clearance.
However, Messi failed to show up and inspire his nation in his final World Cup and Lautaro Martinez will have been disappointed to have had two goals disallowed for failing to hold his run. Lionel Scaloni’s men likely must now defeat Poland and Mexico to have a chance of finishing as group winners.
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