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The top five biggest shock results in World Cup history as Argentina suffer stunning defeat to Saudi Arabia

Chris Byfield

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The top five biggest shock results in World Cup history as Argentina suffer stunning defeat to Saudi Arabia

Lionel Messi’s Argentina side were stunned by Saudi Arabia in their World Cup opener, losing 2-1 to the Gulf state. But was it the biggest upset in World Cup history?

Copa America champions Argentina were a game away from a record-equaling 37-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, which included a Copa America trophy. Saudi Arabia are ranked 53rd in the world and have been in pitiful form in recent months.

Naturally, Saudi Arabia came out on top, as Saleh Al Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari's second-half strikes cancelled out Messi's first-half penalty.

The result has shocked the football world, but was it the greatest shock in World Cup history?


Italy 0-1 North Korea 1966

Italy, who were among the favourites for the 1966 World Cup, needed just a draw against North Korea to reach the quarter-finals.

But Pak Doo-ik’s goal saw North Korea through instead and condemned the Azzurri to a humiliating early exit.

Spain 0-1 Northern Ireland 1982


Northern Ireland took on hosts Spain in their final group match needing a win to qualify for the next stage of the tournament. Nobody gave them a chance.


But Gerry Armstrong’s second-half goal helped Northern Ireland to one of the greatest results in World Cup history. It was made even more remarkable by the fact they played much of the second half with just ten men after Mal Donaghy was sent off.

Argentina 0-1 Cameroon 1990


World Cup holders Argentina, who boasted Diego Maradona, were shocked by Cameroon in the opening match of Italia '90 at the San Siro.

Francois Omam-Biyik's second-half goal saw the tournament minnows edge past Argentina despite having had Andre Kana-Biyik and Benjamin Massing sent off.

USA 1-0 England 1950

England arrived at the 1950 World Cup as a huge favourite to win the tournament. The Three Lions were expected to breeze past the US, who were made up of semi-professionals and amateurs.


But the game’s only goal came from Haiti-born Joe Gaetjens, an accounting student who spent his days washing dishes in a Brooklyn restaurant.

Spain 0-1 Switzerland 2010

Spain arrived at the World Cup in South Africa as European champions and tournament favourites.

However, their competition got off to an atrocious start, as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Switzerland, with the goal being scored by Manchester City's Gelson Fernandes.


Of course, Spain still went on to qualify from their group and win the tournament.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Football, Lionel Messi, Argentina, Football World Cup

Chris Byfield
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