Saudi Arabia defeats Argentina in stunning World Cup upset

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Saudi Arabia defeated footballing giants Argentina during the pair’s first match at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar on Tuesday, in an upset praised throughout the Arab world.

Saudi Arabia’s Salem al-Dawsari scored at the beginning of the second half bringing his team to a 2-1 lead.

Minutes earlier, Saleh al-Shehri had scored an equalizer, after Argentina star Lionel Messi scored a penalty when Leandro Parede was fouled inside the box in the first half.

The South American side scored a further three first half goals, which were disallowed after offside calls.

Argentina fought throughout the rest of the second half but failed to claw back victory, largely due to a strong performance from Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed al-Owais.

The Saudi victory shattered a 36-game winning streak for the Argentinian team.

It was only Saudi Arabia’s sixth appearance in football’s biggest tournament, while the Argentinian team made their 18th showing, having won the tournament twice: In 1978 and 1986.

Fans from Saudi Arabia and the wider Arab world took to social media sites to express their jubilation at the unexpected performance.

Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid tweeted after the match to congratulate Saudi Arabia’s Green Falcons, calling the result a “deserved victory” and praising their “combative performance.”

The Saudi victory was particularly poignant as this year’s tournament is the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East.

Qatar’s status as host, meanwhile, has brought an unprecedented level of international attention to social issues in the country and the wider Gulf region.

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