Saudi Arabia produced one of the greatest World Cup upsets in history on Tuesday, stunning South American giants Argentina in a 2-1 group stage victory in Doha.
According to data company Gracenote, with a 8.7% pre-match chance of winning, Saudi Arabia’s result against Argentina now ranks as the biggest upset in the tournament’s near 100-year old history.
Heer’s a look at the most famous upsets in Fifa World Cup history:
1950 - USA 1 England 0
England arrived in Brazil as one of the tournament favourites after electing to play in the World Cup for the first time.
But England’s status as one of football’s superpowers was destroyed by a rag-tag band of players representing the United States, Joe Gaetjens scoring the winning goal that sealed victory in Belo Horizonte. USA had given a scare to Spain earlier but went one step ahead.
“You hustle and you hold off a team for a while, but you usually don’t hold off a team that is much better than you as long as we did - especially when we scored an early goal, relatively speaking,” Harry Keough, USA defender said. “We would have been happy with a 2-0 loss. In our wildest dreams we didn’t think we’d ever win. We just thought, ‘We’ll do the best we can and hope for a good result’.”
According to Fifa, the 1-0 defeat was scarcely believable, so much so that newspapers back home in England thought the result was a typing error and changed it to 10-1.
1966 - North Korea 1 Italy 0
Pak Doo-Ik wrote his name into World Cup folklore with the goal that stunned a powerful Italy team and sent the Azzurri crashing out of the tournament.
The Italian squad returned to Rome to be reportedly pelted with tomatoes by disgruntled fans.
Korea DPR actually came close to causing another upset in the quarterfinal, as they raced into a 3-0 lead against Portugal. But Portugal had the legendary Eusebio to thank, who turned the match around to score four goals in a 5-3 win.
1982 - Algeria 2 West Germany 1
This one was not just an upset at the time, but also a result that would eventually lead to a major format change.
Algeria arrived at the World Cup finals in Spain as rank outsiders, the North African side playing in its first ever World Cup. But goals from Rabah Madjer and Lakhdar Belloumi either side of a Karl-Heinz Rummenigge goal secured a famous victory.
The Algerians, not just for the result, but for their style of play earned plaudits all around while West Germany were left smarting. While Algeria lost against Austria, they would go on to defeat Chile 3-2. But those results would mean, the two European sides would have a say in Algeria’s destiny.
Algeria’s tournament would end in heartbreak however with the infamous “Disgrace of Gijon”, when West Germany beat Austria 1-0 in a mutually beneficial result that sent both teams through to the second round.
According to a report in The Guardian, “In the 10th minute of that match Horst Hrubesch put the Germans in front. Then … nothing happened. Realising the scoreline suited both of them, Germany and Austria effectively stopped playing. In the ensuing 80 minutes there were no shots, and barely any tackles, crosses or sprints. The game was no longer a contest, it was a conspiracy. The teams’ cynicism provoked universal scorn.”
And while neither side was sanctioned, that farce would lead to the format we see today where the final group stage matches for the teams are played simultaneously.
1990 - Cameroon 1 Argentina 0
If Argentina fans are looking for some hope, here’s something to hold on to.
Argentina began the finals in Italy as defending champions after their Diego Maradona-inspired victory at the 1986 tournament in Mexico.
But not even Maradona was able to prevent Cameroon’s ‘Indomitable Lions’ from pulling off a huge upset with Francois Omam-Biyik scoring the winner at the San Siro in Milan.
Cameroon, who finished the game with nine men, would go on to reach the quarterfinals.
Argentina would recover and go all the way to the final where West Germany would prevail.
2002 - Senegal 1 France 0
Like in 1990 for Argentina, the 2002 World Cup would begin on a horror note for the defending champions. However, there would be no recovery.
The 1998 World Cup champions and Euro 2000 winners France were expected to once again make a deep run at the World Cup in South Korea and Japan.
But Senegal, playing in their first World Cup, derailed French hopes with Papa Bouba Diop scoring the only goal in another tournament-opening upset.
France would go on to be eliminated in the first round. France’s demise was one of the most striking surprises of the finals. They failed to score a goal and managed only a draw and two defeats to crash out miserably in the first round, the worst performance by any defending champion then.
2022 - Saudi Arabia 2-1 Argentina
Saudi Arabia stunned Lionel Messi’s Argentina on Tuesday, beating the two-time winners 2-1 in one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.
Messi gave the Copa America holders an early lead from the penalty spot but Saleh Al-Shehri equalised early in the second half and Salem Al-Dawsari struck a sensational winner.
Argentina, who were one of the favourites to win the World Cup, would have equalled Italy’s record of 37 matches unbeaten had they avoided defeat in the Lusail Stadium.
Saudi Arabia are ranked 51st in the Fifa world rankings.
Saudi King Salman has declared a national holiday.
The 86-year-old monarch “orders that tomorrow, Wednesday, be a holiday for all employees in the public and private sectors, as well as male and female students at all educational levels”, the Al-Ekhbariya channel said on Twitter.
The move comes in the middle of final exams in the Gulf nation, indicating that they will have to be rescheduled.
The Saudi Green Falcons bounced back from conceding an early Lionel Messi penalty to produce one of the greatest World Cup shocks thanks to a Saleh Al-Shehri equaliser and a sublime Salem Al-Dawsari winner at the Lusail Stadium in Doha.
Celebrations erupted throughout the capital Riyadh after the final whistle blew, with fans forming impromptu dance circles and waving the sword-emblazoned national flag from the windows of speeding cars.
But Lionel Messi and Co can take solace from 1990 and also the fact that Mexico and Poland played out a 0-0 draw later in the day. Their destiny remains in their hands as two wins from here will be enough to progress.
With AFP and Fifa.com inputs