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Saudi Arabia declare national holiday after World Cup win vs Argentina

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The 2022 World Cup has delivered its first major shock in the group stages as Saudi Arabia secured an incredible 2-1 win over Argentina in Lusail.

Lionel Messi and Argentina head into the tournament among the favourites to win it as the Paris Saint-Germain superstar aims for a first World Cup title in his stellar career.

However, they came unstuck against a dogged and disciplined Saudi Arabia team, who picked up their first ever World Cup opening day victory.

Herve Renard’s side triggered wild celebrations in the stands for the traveling Saudi fans, and back in Riyadh, with King Salman declaring Wednesday, November 23 as a public holiday.

MORE: All the match details for Saudi Arabia vs Argentina

Saudi Arabia declare holiday after Argentina win

Ranked at 51st in the FIFA world rankings ahead of the World Cup, Saudi Arabia are the second lowest-ranked national side at the tournament, and that underdog status helped them over the line, according to Renard.

“We love it when they forget about us and consider us the smallest team. In the World Cup, there are surprises and that is the mentality we have.”

Saleh Al Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari were the goalscoring heroes for Saudi Arabia but the decision to grant a national day of holiday is unprecedented for a football result in the Arab state.

The holiday involves all public and private sector workers, alongside students, with celebration events also planned in Riyadh.

Social media has been flooded with posts of wild celebrations as the Green Falcons enjoyed their big World Cup moment.

Despite coming in the group stages, Saudi Arabia’s win enters into World Cup folklore, due to the perceived chasm between the two sides, with Messi’s date with destiny hit by a major setback.

The result evoked memories of Senegal opening their 2002 World Cup campaign with a 1-0 win over defending champions France, alongside other huge memories from the World Cup archives.

Renard’s charges have been ranked as third in The Sporting News’ biggest World Cup shocks, in behind that Cameroon’s Italia ’90 win over Argentina and Senegal’s famous night in Seoul.

How Saudi Arabia beat Messi and Argentina

Saudi Arabia set up with a boldly high offside line, as Renard backed his players to absorb the threat of Messi & Co. at the Lusail Stadium.

Despite falling behind to Messi’s early penalty, Saudi Arabia stuck to their strategy, with Messi and Lautaro Martinez (twice) both seeing goals ruled out for offside before the break.

After repelling the threat of Argentina in the first 45, Saudi Arabia ruthlessly took their chances to win the game after the halftime break, as their only two shots on target in the game ended up in the back of the Argentina net. After taking the lead, they dropped back into shape to frustrate the Albiceleste.

A marathon 14 minutes of added time tested their resolve, but with a defence superbly marshalled by Hassan Altambakti, they maintained their composure to seal an unbelievable win.


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