Saudi Arabia had one of the most memorable moments in its football history on Tuesday as the men’s team handed a shocking defeat to Lionel Messi-led Argentina. The gulf nation defeated Argentina 2-1 at the Lusail Stadium, Qatar in one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history. Messi broke the deadlock after converting from the spot in the 10th minute, but goals from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Aldawsari helped Saudi Arabia end the match in ecstasy.
The fans were on cloud nine and so did the entire people of Saudi Arabia. Now, reports are coming that the nation has announced a holiday on Wednesday to celebrate the historical win.
According to Arab News, King Salman has given his nod for the celebratory holiday in the country after a suggestion made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The report quoted Saudi Press Agency, saying that all public and private sector employees and students will be given a holiday.
Disbelieving Saudis formed impromptu dance circles and waved the sword-emblazoned national flag from the windows of speeding cars in Riyadh on Tuesday after their team’s sensational win over Argentina. As the final whistle blew in the group-stage shocker with a 2-1 scorecard that ended Argentina’s 36-match unbeaten streak, fans watching on a big screen at a stadium in the capital Riyadh sent shisha pipes flying as they rushed to celebrate.
Few could have predicted that Herve Renard’s Green Falcons, ranked 51st in the world, would topple the twice-world champions led by the feted Messi, who has seven Ballons d’Or to his name.
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The scenes of jubilation, with some fans wiping away tears with their bright green Saudi banners, were a sharp contrast to the subdued atmosphere during the first half, when Messi scored a penalty and Argentina had three goals knocked down for offside.
But the crowd was jolted into life just three minutes into the second half, when the Saudis equalised.
Celebrations exploded after Salem Al-Dawsari gave the Green Falcons a shock lead five minutes later, and tense fans loudly cheered every save by goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais — who didn’t let another ball past, despite a long period of stoppage time.
(With AFP inputs)
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