World Cup shocks: Rating the work of the underdogs in Qatar

Saudi Arabia, Japan and Costa Rica have all pulled off shock results.
World Cup shocks: Rating the work of the underdogs in Qatar

DREAM COME TRUE: Saudi Arabia's Mohammed Al-Burayk, left, and teammate Abdulelha Al-Malki celebrate after their win in the World Cup group C soccer match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium. Pic: AP Photo/Luca Bruno

Saudi Arabia 2 Argentina 1 

The one that started it all and make no mistake, this was a shock for the ages. Argentina came in among the top two or three favourites to win it all and by halftime had scored one and had four others disallowed. But in four chaotic minutes, the game had been turned on its head, they were behind and would never recover. The Saudis had one World Cup to their name since 1994 and then knocked off Lionel Messi. It sent the tournament off its axis on day three and we’ve been wobbling along since. Shock rating: 9/10 

Japan 2 Germany 1 

Maybe it was the fact that we were still breathless from the Saudi stunner but Japan crept up on everyone just 24 hours later. They crept up on the Germans most of all. Hansi Flick’s side had a narrow lead but VAR ruled out another. Bit by bit Japan began to creep into things. One of the best-drilled teams here, Japan stuck to their plan and, like the Saudis, struck twice in quick succession. Germany had seven minutes to reply but rarely came close. Their regeneration was knocked off track significantly. Shock rating: 8/10 

Iran 2 Wales 0 

The Welsh had grabbed a vital draw against the Americans first time out to bring the knockout stages into view, somewhere over the horizon. Iran, meantime, battling a world of stress and turmoil in the camp at home, had fallen in on themselves against England, conceding six. However, Carlos Queiroz's side are made of sterner stuff and under a hot afternoon sun, they were by far the better team without it showing on the scoreboard. Then Joe Allen’s poor clearance fell to Rouzbeh Cheshmi in the 98th minute and he rattled it home. There was even time for a second. Shock rating: 6/10 

Costa Rica 1 Japan 0 

Japanese fans had filled the Doha metro carriages and in their own ultra-polite way talked of making it out of the group stage in back-to-back World Cups for the first time ever. But it never got going for them. Second-half changes brought a bit more initiative but with six minutes on the clock, a series of sloppy errors left an opening for Costa Rica. The Ticos had shipped seven to Spain and were an 8/1 shot to win but Keysher Fuller sent a deflected shot looping in and anyone who backed it celebrated wildly. Shock rating: 7.5/10 

Morocco 2 Belgium 0 

On paper, of course, this was a shock. But to anyone who had watched Roberto Martinez’s side in their opener against Canada on Wednesday, there was a strong smell of something decaying in the Red Devils' cam. Morocco had held Croatia to an impressive 0-0 draw first time around and have class attacking threats. After having one chalked off, Abdelhamid Sabiri made the breakthrough with a lot of help from Thibaut Courtois. Zakaria Aboukhlal added an emphasis point as Belgium’s golden generation crumbled. Shock rating: 6/10

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