Saudi Arabia’s 2-1 win over Argentina at the FIFA World Cup on Tuesday was a miracle.
Lionel Messi’s band received a lesson in humility in Lusail, Qatar. According to specialist site Transfermarkt, the value of the Argentine workforce is close to $900m. The Saudi team? A fraction of that sum, an estimated total of $35 million.
It’s not the first time there has been a bang at international football’s most important meeting. Here are five such surprising insights from the last 20 years.
France 0 – Senegal 1 (2002)
The consecration quickly gave way to dismay in the French camp. After the first triumph in its history at the 1998 World Cup, France harbored great ambitions for the competition, which was presented four years later in South Korea and Japan. From their first duel, Roger Lemerre’s men suffered defeat to the surprising Senegalese, who made their debut on the world stage. Papa Bouba Diop was the only one to thread the needle and France eventually finished last in their group.
Italy 1 – South Korea 2 (2002)
During the same edition, which took place in Asia, South Korea experienced the finest moments in its football history. Victories over Poland and Portugal led to a place in the round of 16 and set the stage for a seemingly uneven clash against the Italians. The South Koreans equalized in the 88th minute thanks to Seol Ki-Hyeon, then Ahn Jung-Hwan sowed hysteria in Daejeon by touching the goal in the 117th and eliminating the “Azzuris”.
USA 1 – England 1 (2010)
The front page of the June 13, 2010 New York Post newspaper reads: “The United States wins 1 to 1”. Almost 60 years after England’s surprise success at the 1950 World Cup, the Americans have done it again to their Anglo-Saxon rivals. Clint Dempsey’s 39th-minute success allowed Uncle Sam’s country to eke out a crucial draw against England in South Africa. Both nations later managed to exit the group stage but were eliminated from the competition in the round of 16.
Italy 0 – Costa Rica 1 (2014)
Since their coronation in 2006, the Italians have never reached the knockout stages of the World Cup. In Brazil, the losers in 2014 were Uruguay and Costa Rica. Led by a top-form Keylor Navas between the posts, the small Central American country dealt a blow to the Italians on June 20, 2014. Attacking midfielder Bryan Ruiz betrayed the vigilance of Gianluigi Buffon in the 44th minute and ‘La Nazionale’ grabbed one four days later.
Germany 0 – South Korea 2 (2018)
Germany had no reason not to seek defense of the crown won in Brazil at this edition held in Russia. However, that dream quickly turned into a nightmare as they lost to Mexico in their opening game and came close to losing to Sweden. However, South Korea surprisingly planted the final nail in the coffin of the “team”, which in its history has never suffered a elimination from the group stage. Goals from Kim Young Gwon in the 93rd minute and Heung-Min Son in the 96th minute sealed Germany’s fate.