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Which means we’re done here. Thanks all for your company and comments – sorry I couldn’t use them all – and enjoy the three more games we’ve got for you over the next eight or so hours. Peace out!
Here’s Andy Hunter’s report on a match of devastating unreality.
“VAR gives penalties and cancels open play goals,” says Robert. Just what everyone was clamouring for before its introduction.” And he then returns with a plan:
“Here is a penalty kick law that enhances the proportionality of the sanction while still providing extra punishment for fouls in the penalty area. One does not wish to encourage defensive fouls near their own goal, and direct free kicks (with walls etc) are generally an underwhelming and timewasting spectacle. Instead we get an interesting contest between kicker and keeper from a variety of places in the penalty area.
have the penalty kick for most offences taken from the place of the offence
however, penalty kicks awarded for DOGSO offences (anywhere on the field), and deliberate offences in the penalty area against an opponent which are not an attempt to play/challenge for the ball, are taken from the penalty mark
attacking team can elect to take an indirect free kick instead of a penalty kick from the place of the offence
offences in the goal area are deemed to occur on the nearest point on the long line of the goal area
the goalkeeper can always elect to defend a penalty kick from the penalty mark
no follow-on play from penalty kicks - the only outcome is a goal or goal kick”
There’s a lot to digest there. One thing I would say is that part of football’s charm is its simplicity, so I’d want any solution to be as clear as possible, not just for elite level but for every level, playground included. But I see a lot of the rationale.
“In the queue for the Denmark v Tunisia game,”emails Hugh Molloy, “and a massive cheer went up on the final whistle.”
I’ll bet. There’s nothing like the World Cup for simultaneously making the world bigger and smaller. Enjoy!
And here’s our majestic cartoonist’s take on things…
I mentioned this at the time, but I loved how Roy Keane crystallised things, beautiful even by his standards: “Treat people with decency.”
Hello, Billy Buzzkill back again, but what can we do. Football always wins … which is exactly what the bad people are relying on, so.
As Jimmy Cricket once said, “And there’s more…”
“Brazil fans are rejoicing at the humiliation of their arch rival Argentina,” emails Tom Phillips, our Latin America correspondent. “As the final whistle went in Qatar on Tuesday, Brazilians shared the following tearful version of Argentina’s flag on social media.”
Oh man, this is exactly it: you simply cannot beat football.
And I guess we also need to remove ourselves from the moment for a second to note that some things are more important than football; to make sure we’re not narcotised by amazing, uplifting, affirming football into forgetting all of what’s going on around it. I’m sorry, I hate to do it, but I’m afraid it’s my job and all of our social, moral responsibility.
I guess we need to remove ourselves from the moment for a second, to note that Argentina still have a decent chance of escaping the group, so still have a chance of winning the thing – in 1990, they lost their first game to Cameroon and still made the final. But they’ll need to play a lot better than today, with more intensity, aggression and intelligence – I’m not surprised they lost from 2-1 down, I am surprised by how little they created following their second concession.
It’s not even that Saudi won – well it is – but to do some from behind is even more astoundingly astonishing. And in a sense they beat Argentina at their own game, two brilliant goals backed up with every possible kind of physical intervention, every possible kind of law-manipulation, and the mental fortitude of the Gods.
The Saudi players run to their end in the most ecstatic glee anyone in the world has ever experienced, while on Argentinian faces we see a mixture of confusion, dismay and humiliation. Saudi were tremendous in every aspect; Argentina were wan, and when they needed to step it up, they looked in the larder and found nothing.
USA 1950, North Korea 1966, Cameroon 1990, Senegal 2002 … AND SAUDI ARABIA 2022! Football is unmatched, unrivalled, undefeated, and the greatest thing on the face of the earth!
FULL-TIME: Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia
OH MY ABSOLUTE COMPLETE AND UTTER EVERLASTING DAYS!
90+13 min Lisandro puts a ball into the box but it’s scuffed and Saudi clear yet again! This is desperate, unreal, exhausting, mystifying stuff! This is World Cup football!
90+13 min There can’t be long left now. Hang onto your souls, people!
90+11 min Messi to D Maria … whose cross is useless, scuttling behind. Argentina’s first loss in 36 games is imminent, and Saudi have earned the absolute arse out of this. They’ve been brave, tenacious, wild and composed – it’s been a brilliant effort, and they’re on the verge of one of the great World Cup moments, results and feelings!
90+10 min Argentina win successive corners, both cleared, but the second allows a ball back in and it pick out Alvarez! But he can’t impart requisite power, and Alowais flies across his goal to save comfortably.
90+9 min We go again, Alsharani giving thumbs-up from his stretcher.
90+8 min Alsharani still receives treatment and is now on a stretcher being carried off. on the touchline, Alburayk prepares to replace him for what I guess will be enough four or five minutes.
90+6 min Alsharani is conscious, I think, while, sat in his six-yard box, Alowais decompresses. He looked upset by what happened but is composed now, complaining of knee-knack.
90+5 min Alowais charges way out of his goal to punch clear and oh my days, he absolutely annihilates Alsharani, kneeing him full in the phizog with the full force of the moment. The ref, though allows play to proceed before the ball goes dead; godspeed, old mate.
90+4 min Saudi win a corner down the right and try to keep the ball down there, but soon give away a free-kick. Argentina haven’t looked like scoring really, and that’s testament to how well Saudi have defended and also disappeared time. They’ve made these last 20 a real mess.
90+2 min When the ball’s cleared, Di Maria curls back in, Otamendi goes up with the keeper and does enough to disturb him, enabling Alvarez to thrash goalwards … but on the line, Al-Amri heads clear brilliantly, Alowais is booked for protesting Otamendi’s challenge, and Saudi still have their lead! My word!
90+1 min There’ll be eight added minutes and Messi’s poor free-kick achieves nothing, then another monstrous challenge from Altambakti robs Alvarez and hands Argentina another corner. He celebrates like he’s scored again, and what a match he’s had!
90 min Di Maria weaves at the Ssaudi defence and Asiri welcomes himself to the game by administering the trip. Free-kick Argentina, 25 yards out, level with the left edge of the box…
88 min Alabid, the first-half sub, is subbed, with the ref chasing him to the touchline to award a yellow card; Asiri replaces him, while Haitham is on for Albrikan.
87 min Di Maria again goes down the right, picks out Lautaro, and again, Altambakti, my man of the match, makes a fine challenge.
87 min Er, there’s another game kicking off in 70 minutes’ time.
86 min I can’t help but think the removal of Paredes harmed Argentina. He was helping them set their tempo, and the game’s got a bit messier since he departed; weight of numbers should override structure only at the very end.
84 min Argentina haven’t lost a World cup game in which they’ve scored first since West Germany beat them 3-1 in 1958, but excuse me while I interrupt myself! Di Maria picks out Big Leo Messi at the back stick, he’s up early … too early, I think, and can’t impart any power on his header aimed for the far corner, so again, Alowais collects. Since going behind, Argentina have created almost nothing.
83 min Acuna bursts down the left and crosses, but no one hits the near post so Alowais collects under nae pressure.
82 min Argentina are being Argentinad now, Abdulhamid clattering someone – Fernandez I think – and taking a card while stopping momentum.
81 min And Messi lofts high over the bar!
80 min The Saudi wall isn’t keen to retreat, the tension ratcheting up a few more levels above stratospheric.
79 min Argentina win a free-kick in Messi Territory after a foul on De Paul and Aldawsari is booked for appealing it’s award. Here he comes, 25 yards out, just left of centre…
78 min Change for Saudi, Alghannam for Alshehri, scorer of their first goal.
77 min The ground is bouncing, jumping, and every other cliche we use to describe the greatest communal experience that exists in the world. Argentina have roughly 20minutes to save themselves – though in a sense, this result would be as bad for Poland and Mexico, both of whom will fancy making the knockouts.
75 min Albulaihi is booked for timewasting. I daresay his won’t be the last, and it’s interesting that this is a risk he was prepared to take, England, Wales and the rest.
74 min Tremendous keeping from Alowais, who’s been great so far. A ball in behind and for a second it looks like Lautaro is in, but the keeper slides out and makes a brilliant, goal-saving challenge. I’ve smoke coming off my fingers, this is wondrous, wonderful stuff.
74 min “Not just third-choice keeper,” says Jerry Spring. “How about from the kick-off the captain wear the armband, gets booked, passes to another player, gets booked, passes on...back to the captain, gets second yellow and off, onto the next player, etc. No players left on the pitch and it hasn’t even kicked off ... and if all the main teams do that in consecutive games then Fifa won’t have a competition to sell ... let’s see who backs down first.”