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Saudi Arabia win over Argentina and England loss to USA – the World Cup’s biggest ever upsets

Argentina are the latest team to be beaten in the World Cup. But how does this compare to other jaw-dropping defeats?

Fans watched in amazement as Lionel Messi’s team, one of the favorites to win this year’s tournament, was defeated 2-1 by Saudi Arabia Tuesday morning.

It seemed like the South Americans would win easily when Messi scored a penalty that put his side up 1-0.

Saudi Arabia, 51st on the FIFA world rankings, won a historic victory with goals by Saleh Al-Shehri, and Salem Al-Dawsari.


The excitement surrounding today’s victory is so intense that King Salman, Saudi Arabia’s ruler, declared Wednesday a national holiday in Saudi Arabia.

Sky News examines some other major shocks in the history and legacy of the most prestigious football tournament.

Argentina 1 Cameroon 2Italy 90

Argentina has suffered shock losses at the World Cup before.

Cameroon defeated them 1-0 at Italia 90 in what is considered to be one the most shocking World Cup upsets.

Image Cameroon celebrating beating Argentina at Italia90

Cameroon was coached by Valery Nepomnyashchy, a Russian coach, and led by Roger Milla (38 years old striker), who faced tough competition from Argentina, Romania, and the Soviet Union.

They started well, and beat an Argentina team featuring Diego Maradona with a second-half header by Francois Omam Biyik.

Cameroon won a historic victory despite having two players dismissed in the second period.

They beat Romania before losing 4-0 against the Soviet Union to win the group.

The team beat Colombia in round two, and lost in extra time to England in the quarterfinals.

West Germany 1 Algeria 2

Spain 1982

West Germany, having won the European Championships 1980, was one of the favorites going into 1982 World Cup in Spain.

They were expecting to comfortably win against Algeria, who had reached the World Cup finals the first time.

Image: Lakhdar Belloumi, Algeria’s captain, celebrates with his team as they beat West Germany in 1982. Pic: AP

Jupp Derwall, West German coach, said that if his team didn’t beat Algeria, “I’ll take the next train home.”

He said that his players would “laugh their heads off” if he showed them footage of the Algerian team.

Despite having a star-studded team, West Germany was beaten 2-1 by the Algerians.

West Germany bounced back quickly and made it to the final where they were defeated by tournament winners Italy.

North Korea 1 Italy 0.

England 1966

For England fans, 1966 will be associated with World Cup victory. However, for Italy it is quite another story.

They were on the wrong side of one of the most significant World Cup upsets, losing 1-0 at Ayresome Parc in Middlesbrough to North Korea.

Image North Korea’s Pak Doo Ik scored the only goal in the match against Italy at the 1966 World Cup.

Italy should have known the warning signs. North Korea beat Australia 9-2 in aggregate over a two-leg playoff. This was enough to get them to the World Cup finals.

It was a struggling team, having been eliminated in 1954 and failing to qualify for 1958, before being again knocked out in 1962.

After beating Chile by 2-0 and losing to the Soviet Union by 1-0, they lost early to North Korea. They scored the goal late in the second half through Pak Doo Ik, but it was too late for them.

South Korea to Italy 2

Korea/Japan 2002

Italy also suffered another shock at the World Cup in 2002 when they were faced with South Korea.

Many regarded Italy as one the favorite countries for the tournament, with stars such as goalkeeper Gianluigi Bufon and legendary defender Paolo Maldini.

They were defeated 2-1 by South Korea in a thrilling 16-round tie.

Image: The Italian team at the final of the 2002 South Korean defeat. Pic: AP

With a strong header in 18 minutes, Christian Vieri gave Italy an advantage.

South Korea was able to score a late equalizer through Seol Ki Yoon, pushing the game into extra time.

The game was looking set for penalties when Jung-Hwan Ahn scored in the 117th minutes a tap-in to send South Korea through.

France 0 Senegal 1

Korea/Japan 2002

Early in the tournament, South Korea-Japan World Cup shocked when Senegal beat defending champions France by 1-0.

Image Senegal stunned World Cup holders France in 2002

France had a great squad with Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry and others.

However, Zidane’s injury early on seemed to disrupt France’s rhythm while El Hadji Diouf, a talented but unknown player, took the lead.

After impressing in the tournament’s forward division, the forward would eventually move to Liverpool and harass the French defense throughout the tournament. He forced a mistake that was capitalized on by Papa Bouba Diop, the game’s sole goal scorer.

France was eliminated at the group stage. Senegal made it to the quarter-finals, but Turkey defeated them in extra time.

England 1 USA

Brazil 1950

The shock defeat of England to the USA was later made into a movie called “The Miracle Match”.

England were the heavy favourites in this tournament against a US team that was mostly made up of part-time players.

Three Lions, also known as the “Kings of Football” at the time, had a remarkable post-war record of 23 victories, four losses, three draws and a 10-0 victory against Portugal.

Image Joe Gaetjens was America’s hero as they defeated England at the 1950 World Cup

England’s star player Stanley Matthews was not available for the game. The US coach was so pessimistic that he declared before the game: “We have no chance.”

Joe Gaetjens, a Haitian born goalkeeper, scored the only goal in a 1-0 win for the USA.

Later, the team was profiled in The Game of their Lives. This book was later made into a film of similar name, later called The Miracle Match.

Spain 0 Northern Ireland 1

Spain 1982

In 1982, Northern Ireland was determined to prove their point when they reached the World Cup for the first time in 14 years.

Their job was made even more difficult by the fact that they were drawn alongside the hosts, Spain as well as Yugoslavia, and Honduras.

After drawing with Spain, Northern Ireland was defeated by a skilled Spain team.

Northern Ireland took a crucial lead with Gerry Armstrong’s goal in the second half from Watford.

Image: Gerry Armstrong scored for Northern Ireland in 1982 against World Cup host Spain. Pic: AP

They had to dig when Mal Danoghy was red-flagged after 60 minutes. Then, they battled with a man for the last 30 minutes to win their historic victory.

Both teams qualified for the second round of knockouts, in which they were eliminated from their respective groups.


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