Saudi Arabia humble Argentina: Where does it rank among biggest World Cup shocks?

As far as World Cup upsets go, is clearly up there, but the 92 year old tournament has produced its fair share of unexpected results in its history.

Telegraph Sport ranks the most shocking of them all.

7. Spain 0 Northern Ireland 1, Spain 1982

It could be retrospectively argued there was nothing shocking about Northern Ireland defeating hosts Spain in 1982 given the quality in their line-up. Billy Bingham’s side was packed with talent, Pat Jennings, Martin O’Neill and teenage Norman Whiteside capable of playing for any nation in that tournament.  But in the intimidating atmosphere of Valencia – and against a referee who dismissed Mal Donaghy for an incident no-one who witnessed it can yet explain – Gerry Armstrong scored the most famous goal in Northern Ireland history.

6. Senegal 1 France 0, South Korea/Japan 2002

In this June 11, 2002 file photo Senegal's players celebrate after scoring their third goal in the first half of their 2002 World Cup Group A soccer match against Uruguay at the Suwon World Cup stadium in Suwon, South Korea. From left are Aliou Cisse, Alassane Ndour, Henri Camara, Khalilou Fadiga, Papa Bouba Diop (hidden) and El Hadji Diouf - AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson

History is kinder to the French side beaten as holders in the opening game of the 2002 World Cup, but when they kicked off their defence in 2002 by succumbing to Papa Bouba Diop’s winning goal, few realised that so many in the Senegal side would go on to be household names across English and European football. The iconic French team of Zidane, Vieira and Henry failed to qualify from the group, while the Senegalese went on to inspire a generation of African players.

5. South Korea 0-0 Spain (5-3 after pens), South Korea/Japan 2002

Should this game make the list? Given the result in the World Cup quarter-final, definitely. Given the circumstances, perhaps the outcome owed more than a little to favourable home conditions. The South Koreans had already defeated Italy and Portugal in controversial circumstances amid suggestions the officials were not up to standard, and when Spain had what seemed two legitimate goals ruled out the conspiracy theories grew. In the shoot-out, South Korean keeper Lee Woon Jae was yards off his line when he saved Joaquin’s penalty, but after genuine cause to believe this was their year Spain’s wait for world glory was on hold.

4. USA 1-0 England, Brazil 1950

Should we remind ourselves of this ? In 1950, the USA were no more than part-timers, including a school teacher and goalkeeper whose day job was working for an undertaker – a headline writers’ dream as Walter Winterbottom’s side was defeated by Joe Gaetjens first half goal.

United States soccer player Joe Gaetjens is carried off by cheering fans after the USA team beat England 1-0 in a World Cup soccer match in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Talk football with Americans these days and the names Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Roger Goodell are front and center. Next month, though, many Americans just might have Tim Howard, Landon Donovan and Bob Bradley on their minds - AP Photo

Never again would England head into a tournament described as ‘the kings of football’, nor would our newspapers suggest that – in the interests of fairness – a weaker opponent be given a 3-0 head start. So where did that idea of English arrogance come from again?

3. North Korea 1-0 Italy, England 1966

Italy headed to England in 1966 with their club sides dominant in European competition. North Korea were effectively in the competition by default, having to only defeat Australia over two legs to qualify. They were considered lightweight fodder upon arrival, especially when outclassed by the USSR in their opening game. But an injury-hit Italy side fluffed their lines at Middlesbrough’s Ayresome Park, where Pak Doo-ik struck the goal to send the Italians home.

2. Cameroon 1-0 Argentina, Italy 1990

Argentina may be consoled by their last rank failure in their opening day, when the Cameroon team inspired by Roger Milla signalled Africa’s arrival as a genuine, consistent force on the global stage, eclipsing Algeria beating West Germany in 1982. Cameroon’s François Omam-Biyik’s strike against the then world champions began a month in which his country charmed the world.  Pele’s prediction that ‘an African country will win the World Cup by 2000’ seemed like it would turn him into a prophet until Gary Lineker ended the Cameroon fairytale in the quarter-final. Argentina licked their wounds and Diego Maradona inspired his side to another final.

1. Saudi Arabia 2 Argentina 1, Qatar 2022

Salem Al-Dawsari #10 of Saudi Arabia celebrates a goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at Lusail Stadium on November 22, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. - Liu Lu/VCG via Getty Images

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