The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has been an interesting experience. On one hand, the various controversies surrounding the hosts have not disappeared during the month of action, but at the same time, the on-pitch performances certainly had football fans enthralled.
There have been some cracking matches along the way in Qatar, which have left fans scratching their heads when analysing the football odds today. Let’s take a look at five of the most thrilling games in the Middle East this winter.
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia
This was when the World Cup truly kicked into life. After a Lionel Messi penalty had given Argentina the lead against Saudi Arabia at half-time, it looked like a procession was in store. Indeed, the South Americans had the ball in the net on numerous other occasions in the first half, only for the assistant’s flag to deny them.
However, Saudi Arabia came out in the second half with the wind in their sails and produced a stunning blitz to turn the game around and take a 2-1 lead. Argentina were left panicking, and couldn’t find the all-important equaliser as Saudi Arabia for a famous victory.
Portugal 3-2 Ghana
It took a while for Portugal’s clash with Ghana to spark into life, but after Cristiano Ronaldo gave the European side the lead from the penalty spot, chaos reigned at Stadium 974.
Joao Felix doubled Portugal’s lead, but Ghana struck back shortly after thanks to Andre Ayew’s close-range finish. Raphael Leao looked to have put the game beyond doubt with a fine finish, but Osman Bukari’s goal brought Ghana back into it once again.
The African outfit almost claimed an equaliser as Inaki Williams pounced on a mistake by goalkeeper Diogo Costa, but a slip at the crucial moment allowed the Portuguese stopper to recover in the nick of time.
Cameroon 3-3 Serbia
It’s fair to say that few were predicting a goal-fest when Cameroon and Serbia met at the Al Janoub Stadium. How wrong they were.
Cameroon took the lead after half an hour through Jean-Charles Castelletto, but by half-time Serbia had turned it around thanks to goals from Strahinja Pavlovic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Alexander Mitrovic then put Serbia further clear in the second half, and the game looked to be all over.
However, in the blink of an eye, Cameroon drew level, first with Vincent Aboubakar’s scooped finish, and then through Eric Maxim Choupo-Mouting. Neither side could find a winner in what proved to be a breathless encounter.
South Korea 2-3 Ghana
Ghana, having been on the end of a 3-2 defeat to Portugal in their opening game of the tournament, inflicted the same scoreline on South Korea in their next match. Goals from Mohammed Salisu and Mohammed Kudus gave Ghana a 2-0 lead at half-time, and it was a long way back for South Korea.
However, the side from Asia discovered some form in the second half, and struck level thanks to a quickfire brace from Cho Gue-sung.
It was all in vain though, as Kudus hit back once again for Ghana, restoring a lead which they held onto until the final whistle.