Lionel Messi admits Argentina's shock World Cup loss to Saudi Arabia is a 'hard blow for everyone'

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Few expected anything other than a Messi-inspired cakewalk for the South Americans at the Lusail Stadium, where the 35-year-old's early penalty only furthered that feeling. Argentina went on to have three goals disallowed for offside in a one-sided first half that was followed by a remarkable second period in which the raucous Saudi fans cheered their side to a stunning victory. Saleh Al Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari scored a quickfire double soon after the restart to put the Asian side ahead, with goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais putting in a man-of-the-match display to help see out a famous win. Argentina are among the favourites to lift the World Cup at the Lusail Stadium on December 18 but began the finals with a defeat for the first time since Cameroon stunned them in 1990. Messi - who became just the fifth players to score in four different World Cups - struck a frustrated figure after Tuesday's shock loss in this Group C clash. "It is a very hard blow for everyone," said the Argentina captain, who is an ambassador for Saudi tourism. "We did not expect to start this way. Things happen for a reason. There are no excuses. "We knew that Saudi Arabia is a team with good players, that they move the ball well and that they push (forward) the (defensive) line a lot. We worked on it, but we rushed a bit." Argentina now have a potential must-win encounter in their second game against Mexico on Saturday before finishing off the group stage against Poland. "We are going to be more united than ever. This group is strong, and we have shown it," Messi said of the Argentina squad that came into the global tournament on a 36-match unbeaten run. "It is a situation that we haven't gone through in a long time. Now we have to show that this is a real group. "We have to go back to the base of who we are. We have to think about what's next."

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