In a World Cup result for the ages, Saudi Arabia edged Argentina, 2-1, in Tuesday’s Group C opener in Lusail, Qatar. The Halcones Verdes not only equalized the Argentine favorites’ first-half goal, but scored again five minutes later with a galvanized shot from Salem al-Dawsari that ultimately became the game-winner.
When it was over, it seemed no one on the field could believe what had just happened: the 51st-ranked Saudis had defeated the World Cup stalwarts and ended Argentina’s 36-match unbeaten streak in international play. Saudi Arabia’s win was all the more impressive given the big odds they faced: The team had an 8.7 percent chance of winning, according to data analyst Nielson Gracenote, making their win statistically the biggest upset in history. the history of the World Cup.
Here are seven more moments in World Cup history when the underdog overcame the odds for a memorable and stunning upset.
At the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, the American team was a “hopeless gang”: their bench was packed with fans and strangers, including a student, a hearse driver and a dishwasher. But a single goal, on a shot by Philadelphia school teacher Walter Bahr that was redirected into the net by Haitian-born student Joe Gaetjens, stunned the world, including the English press. According to FIFA’s history of the game, the results were so shocking that journalists in England assumed the 1–0 scoreline was a misprint and reported that England won 10–1. At the end of the match, Brazilian fans ran onto the field to carry the American players on their shoulders in a game that became known as the “Miracle on Grass.”