Argentina vs Saudi Arabia ratings: Messi magic faded

Lionel Messi’s magic faded when Argentina really needed a goal, while Cristian Romero shouldn’t have been anywhere near the team and Saudi Arabia’s defenders were all heroic! PLAYER RATINGS from one of the World Cup’s greatest-ever shocks

  • Argentina lost 2-1 to Saudi Arabia in one of the World Cup’s historic upsets
  • Despite Lionel Messi’s early penalty, Argentina couldn’t kill the game off
  • And they were stunned by Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari strikes
  • Saudi Arabia then dug in to withstand intense Argentina pressure late on 
  • Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results

Saudi Arabia recorded one of the greatest shocks in World Cup history as they stunned Argentina, one of the tournament favourites, 2-1 on Tuesday.

Goals by Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari early in the second-half turned the contest around following Lionel Messi’s early penalty and Argentina’s first-half dominance.

Sportsmail brings you player ratings from the stunning upset at the Lusail Iconic Stadium.

Saudi Arabia pulled off a sensational upset as they beat Argentina 2-1 at the World Cup


Emiliano Martinez – The Aston Villa stopper wasn’t tested at all until Saudi Arabia’s double whammy early in the second-half. He wasn’t at fault for the first goal but may have done better with the second, the effort by Al-Dawsari that he managed to get a glove to but was unable to stop it reaching the top corner. 5

Nahuel Molina – Advanced forward down the right with every opportunity, especially in the first-half when he supported Di Maria to good effect in the final third. Not directly at fault for either goal conceded but became less effective when Argentina were desperately pushing for an equaliser. 6

Cristian Romero – Completely misread the situation and then was outpaced for the opening goal scored by Al-Shehri, who was able to steal a march on Romero inside the penalty box. He was replaced by the more in-form Lisandro Martinez just before the hour mark and Lionel Scaloni will regret his decision to start the Tottenham defender, especially in light on recent fitness issues. 4

Cristian Romero wasn’t able to keep up with Saleh Al-Shehri as he scored his team’s first goal

Nicolas Otamendi – An occasion to forget for the Benfica man who at times appeared to have left his vast international experience at the door. Usually so resolute at the back, Argentina crumbled at the first sign of pressure from modest opponents. Probably wanted Martinez alongside him here rather than Romero. 5

Nicolas Tagliafico – Looked a first-half threat with licence to push forward but ultimately was part of the defence that wilted spectacularly in the opening minutes of the second period. He also missed a guilt-edged chance to equalise when the ball struck his knee and allowed Saudi keeper Al-Owais to save. 5.5

Rodrigo de Paul – Contributed to Argentina’s complete control of the midfield during the first-half but that influence dropped and the Atletico Madrid man wasn’t as able to thread incisive passes or get into scoring positions to link back and front. The closest he came was when he sent an effort well over late in the first-half. 5.5

Leandro Paredes – Grappled to the floor at the 10th-minute corner, leading to the penalty from which Messi gave Argentina the advantage. Given the clear inconsistency over VAR decisions on infringements such as this, he might not have won the spot-kick on another day. Despite a few glimpses, he struggled to assert his dominance against an industrious Saudi midfield and was replaced on the hour. 5

Leandro Parades chats with Papu Gomez during Argentina’s shock loss on Tuesday

Papu Gomez – Looked in his element trying to play those long balls to set Lautaro Martinez and Lionel Messi beyond the ludicrously high Saudi defensive line. Indeed, he played one of the passes leading to one of Martinez’s offside goals. But like so may around him, was hooked on 59 minutes having served his purpose. 5

Lionel Messi – Hardly how his fairytale final World Cup was meant to begin. Should have scored when in a brilliant position just two minutes into the game but quickly atoned from 12 yards with a coolly converted penalty. Other chances came his way and he too was unable to stay onside when it mattered. But in the second-half, he was simply unable to weave his way through a Saudi defence that stuck to him like limpets. 5

Lionel Messi scored an early penalty but ultimately saw his last World Cup start with defeat

Angel Di Maria – Argentina’s most likely creator, Di Maria did what he does and delivered tempting crosses throughout, just begging to get a telling touch. That was hardly his fault but this was still a long way from his best performance. 6

Lautaro Martinez – Produced some delightful finishes in one-on-one situations having ridden on the shoulder of the last defender – only to then glance up and see a raised flag. It’s well within his ability and intelligence to hold those runs for the split-second required to avoid this issue. In the end, the frustration showed. 5

It was a thoroughly frustrating occasion for Martinez as he saw two goals chalked off


Lisandro Martinez – Looked an immediate upgrade when he came on for Romero. Really should have started. 6

Enzo Fernandez – Piled on to try and find the equaliser that would have spared Argentina’s blushes but could only head his best chance over the bar. 6

Julian Alvarez – Looked genuinely dangerous when he came on, seeing a header cleared off the line and another effort saved by the keeper. 6.5

Marcos Acuna – Came on for Tagliafico but failed to offer much improvement during the final siege. 6


Mohammed Al-Owais – Was next to hopeless in the first-half as Argentina kept putting the ball past him, only to be flagged offside. But he was magnificent in the second, pulling off a series of crucial saves to preserve their lead, notably the flying catch that denied Tagliafico. 8

Mohammed Al-Owais made a series of crucial second-half saves to ensure his team’s win

Saud Abdulhamid – Guilty of the shirt-grabbing and wrestling on Paredes that conceded the penalty early on but more than redeemed himself thereafter to keep Argentina at bay. 7

Hassan Al-Tambakti – Absolutely outstanding. Defended heroically, getting in the right position to tackle Messi and Martinez when they both seemed destined to score. Celebrated each crucial defensive intervention like a goal. 9

Hassan Al-Tambakti was excellent at the heart of the Saudi defence, making key interceptions

Ali Al-Bulayhi – Rock solid at the heart of a Saudi defence that came under a barrage of pressure as the minutes ticked by. Very good positioning to snuff out the threat of Argentina’s talented attackers. 8

Yasser Al-Shahrani – There was genuine concern around the stadium when he clattered into the high knee of Al-Owais late on. Summed up a display of real bravery. 8

Abdulelah Al-Malki – Overstepped the mark with some of his challenges at times but that was maybe needed to get any kind of grip in midfield. 7

Saleh Al-Shehri – Took his goal with aplomb from what was Saudi Arabia’s first chance of any note, stealing a yard on Romero to meet a ball through the centre. A moment he’ll never forget. 7.5

Saleh Al-Shahri celebrates after scoring a well-taken equaliser just after the interval

Mohamed Kanno – Impressive energy as he ate up the ground to press Argentina’s creators before they could get into positions of danger. 8

Salem Al-Dawsari – Took his goal superbly having retrieved a cross and then stepped inside to work a shot and pick out the top corner. A goal that will be replayed for as long as the World Cup is played. Impressive acrobatics with the celebration too. 8

Al-Dawsari was the match winner and celebrated his historic moment with an fine flip

Salman Al-Faraj – The skipper looked devastated to go off with an injury just before half-time and who can blame him. Will hopefully return later in the group stage. 6

Firas Al-Buraikan – Faced with an almost impossible job labouring alone against the Argentina defence but did really well. 7

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