Portuguese Rider Paulo Goncalves Killed After Dakar Crash

 

 

Portuguese motorbike rider Paulo Goncalves has died after a crash during Sunday’s Dakar Rally seventh stage, organisers announced.

The 40-year-old suffered the fatal accident after 276 kilometres of the day’s ride from Riyadh to Wadi Al Dawasir.

“The organisers received an alert at 10:08 (0708 GMT) and dispatched a medical helicopter that reached the biker at 10:16 and found him unconscious after going into cardiac arrest,” a statement on the rally’s official website reported.

“Following resuscitation efforts in situ, the competitor was taken by helicopter to Layla Hospital, where he was sadly pronounced dead,” it added.

Goncalves was competing in his 13th edition of the Dakar. He made his debut in 2006, and took second to Marc Coma in 2015.

The Honda rider only made it to this year’s first Dakar staged in Saudi Arabia after recovering from a fractured spleen in a crash in his native Portugal in December.

After recovering from surgery in time he said before the rally got underway: “It’s a victory for me to be here at the start.”

Goncalves was placed 46th in the overall bike standings after Friday’s sixth stage.

‘We Made Children’s Mistakes’, Says Messi After Barca Stunned By Atletico

 

Lionel Messi said Barcelona were guilty of playing like children on Thursday after Atletico Madrid staged a thrilling comeback to beat them 3-2 and set up a Spanish Super Cup final against Real Madrid.

Barca looked on course for a Sunday showdown against Real when they led 2-1 with nine minutes left but instead, it will be a Madrid derby in Saudi Arabia to decide who lifts the trophy.

“It’s a shame because we switched off for a few moments and made children’s mistakes,” Messi said. “We should have closed out the match.

“It’s a blow for us, especially as we were the better team. Our mistakes cost us dearly.”

All five goals were scored during a wild second half in Jeddah that began with Koke putting Atletico in front, just 21 seconds after coming on as a substitute at the interval.

Goals from Messi and Antoine Griezmann turned the game on its head, only for Atletico to hit back with a late double, Alvaro Morata converting a penalty in the 81st minute before Angel Correa found a winner in the 86th.

In between, Barcelona also had two goals ruled out after VAR spotted tight offsides while Atleti were denied what looked a clear penalty at 2-2, after the ball clipped the hand of Gerard Pique.

“They had more legs than us and in the end it cost us,” said Griezmann.

“We made mistakes in everything, in passes – I think I missed a pass to Sam (Umtiti) before they scored – and the little things can lose you a match, a league, a Champions League.”

A pulsating contest will have delighted the Spanish Football Federation, who have faced heavy criticism for taking the competition away from Spain to a different continent, and a country that has a long-condemned record on human rights.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said on Wednesday he preferred the old format but his strong team selection, that included Messi, Griezmann and Luis Suarez, suggested this was a tournament he was eager to win.

“The goal for 2-2 came at a time when we didn’t know how to get a hold of the game,” said Valverde, whose position will come under renewed scrutiny.

‘Instability’

“There is always instability when you lose,” he added.

It remains to be seen how this defeat might affect the La Liga title race, with Real Madrid and Atletico now enjoying the opportunity not only to claim a trophy but score a psychological boost too.

“It is important for the club, we beat the best-attacking team in the world,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “You saw our bite, our belief, our desire. It’s what this club is all about.”

Atletico survived a frantic first half and frustration spilled over at the break as Jordi Alba poked a finger in the face of Joao Felix, who then went head-to-head with Messi. Suarez also had to be pulled away by Stefan Savic.

A spikey end to the first period was trumped by an explosive start to the second as Koke, on for less than a minute, gave Atletico the lead by stabbing into the bottom corner.

Simeone chose not to celebrate and if he was worried about the amount of time left, he was right, as Barcelona scored twice in 11 minutes.

First, Messi equalised after muscling his way through Koke and Savic on the edge of the area and then he fired in again after steering a high ball around Koke. This time, however, VAR showed his elbow had served as a cushion.

The disappointment was brief as Alba crossed for Suarez and while his header was brilliant pawed away by Jan Oblak, Griezmann nodded in the rebound.

Pique thought he had a third after Arturo Vidal half-volleyed Messi’s free-kick across the box but again VAR intervened.

Atletico came again. Correa should have pulled them level but appeared keener to find Felix than shoot himself and when the rebound did fall to the Felix, Sergi Roberto made a last-ditch block.

But the floodgates had opened in the Barca defence. Vitolo was next to go clear and this time he was brought down by Neto. Morata converted the penalty.

Then, Morata skipped free down the right and his cross struck the dangling hand of Pique but despite damning replays, the referee decided against giving another spot-kick.

Yet moments later, Atletico were in again. Correa this time sprinted in behind and while Neto made a block, the ball had just enough power to cross the line. Now, Simeone could celebrate.

Saudi Says US Did ‘Not Consult’ Over Drone Strike That Killed Soleimani

A combination of file photos of slain Iranian General, Qasem Soleimani, and US President, Donald Trump. AFP

 

Saudi Arabia was not consulted by Washington over a US drone strike that killed a top Iranian general, an official said Sunday, as the kingdom sought to defuse soaring regional tensions.

Saudi Arabia is vulnerable to possible Iranian reprisals after Tehran vowed “revenge” following the strike on Friday that killed powerful commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.

“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia was not consulted regarding the US strike,” a Saudi official told AFP, requesting anonymity.

“In light of the rapid developments, the kingdom stresses the importance of exercising restraint to guard against all acts that may lead to escalation, with severe consequences,” the official added.

READ ALSO: Mourners Pack Iran City As Soleimani’s Remains Return

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry echoed a similar call for restraint at the weekend and King Salman emphasised the need for measures to calm tensions in a phone call on Saturday with Iraqi President Barham Saleh.

In a separate phone call with Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stressed “the need to make efforts to calm the situation and de-escalate tensions”, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

The crown prince has instructed Prince Khalid bin Salman, his younger brother and deputy defence minister, to travel to Washington and London in the next few days to urge restraint, the pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported.

Prince Khalid will meet White House and US defence officials, the paper said, citing unnamed sources.

The killing of Soleimani, seen as the second most powerful man in Iran, is the most dramatic escalation yet in spiralling tensions between Washington and Tehran and has prompted fears of a major conflagration in the Middle East.

US President Donald Trump, who ordered the drone strike, has warned that Washington will hit Iran “very fast and very hard” if the Islamic republic attacks American personnel or assets.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both allies of Washington, are also vulnerable to Iranian counter strikes, analysts say.

A string of attacks attributed to Iran has caused anxiety in recent months as Riyadh and Washington deliberated over how to react.

In particular, devastating strikes against Saudi oil installations last September led Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to adopt a more conciliatory approach aimed at avoiding confrontation with Tehran.

Analysts warn that pro-Iran groups have the capacity to carry out attacks on US bases in Gulf states as well as against shipping in the Strait of Hormuz — the strategic waterway that Tehran could close at will.

AFP

Saudi Sentences To Death Yemeni Attacker On Spanish Performers

 

 

A Saudi criminal court sentenced a Yemeni man to death Sunday for a knife attack on a Spanish theatre group performing in Riyadh last month, state television said.

The court also sentenced an accomplice to 12 years and six months in jail for the November 11 attack which Riyadh has linked to militant group Al-Qaeda, and which Madrid said left four performers wounded.

“The criminal court issues a preliminary ruling handing the death sentence to the perpetrator of the terrorist attack… in Riyadh,” the official Al-Ekhbariya television reported.

The assailant, identified by Saudi police as a 33-year-old Yemeni, went on a stabbing spree during a live musical in the capital’s King Abdullah Park, one of the venues hosting the two-month “Riyadh Season” entertainment festival.

Last week, Al-Ekhbariya said the attacker took orders from an Al-Qaeda leader in Yemen, but so far there has been no claim of responsibility from the group.

Al-Ekhbariya did not offer any details on his alleged accomplice.

Saudi Arabia is leading a military coalition supporting the Yemeni government against the Iran-backed Huthi rebels and has also been involved in the fight against Al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is active in Yemen, is considered by the United States as the radical group’s most dangerous branch.

Observers also point at burbling resentment among arch-conservatives in the kingdom over the multi-billion dollar entertainment push.

The Riyadh Season festival is part of a broad government push to open up the kingdom to tourists and diversify its economy away from oil.

De facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pursued sweeping social reforms that mark the biggest cultural shakeup in the kingdom’s modern history, allowing mixed-gender concerts and the reopening of cinemas.

Although the reforms are wildly popular among Saudi Arabia’s mainly young population, they risk angering religious hardliners in the deeply conservative nation.

Court Sentences Five To Death Over Khashoggi’s Murder

 

A woman holds a portrait of missing journalist and Riyadh critic Jamal Khashoggi reading “Jamal Khashoggi
OZAN KOSE / AFP

 

Five people have been sentenced to death over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but two top figures investigated over the killing have been exonerated, Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said Monday.

“The court issued death sentences on five men who directly took part in the killing,” the prosecutor said in a statement.

Saudi prosecutors had said deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri oversaw the Washington Post columnist’s killing in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in October 2018 and that he was advised by the royal court’s media czar Saud al-Qahtani.

However, Qahtani was investigated but not indicted “due to insufficient evidence” and Assiri was investigated and charged but eventually acquitted on the same grounds, the statement said.

Of the 11 unnamed individuals indicted in the case, five were sentenced to death, three face jail terms totalling 24 years, and the others were acquitted.

The prosecutor said that the Riyadh court hearing the case held a total of nine sessions attended by representatives of the international community as well as Khashoggi’s relatives.

“We found that Khashoggi’s murder was not premeditated,” the statement said.

AFP

 

Lazio Defeat Juventus To Win Super Cup

Lazio’s Italian forward Ciro Immobile runs after the ball during the Supercoppa Italiana final football match between Juventus and Lazio at the King Saud University Stadium in the Saudi capital Riyadh on December 22, 2019.
GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP

 

Lazio won the Italian Super Cup for a fifth time on Sunday, defeating Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus 3-1 in a game played in the Saudi Arabia capital of Riyadh.

Lazio, the only team to have defeated Juve in Serie A this season, were in front through Luis Alberto after just 16 minutes.

Paulo Dybala levelled just before the break but Bosnian international Senad Lulic restored Lazio’s advantage in the 73rd minute.

Danilo Cataldi added a third in the fourth minute of stoppage time from a free kick after Juve’s Uruguayan midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur had been sent off.

Qatar Emir To Skip Riyadh Summit Dampening Hopes

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz        Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani / AFP

 

Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, will not attend the Gulf summit in Riyadh, state media reported Tuesday, dampening hopes of a reconciliation between Doha and a Saudi-led bloc.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut all diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar in June 2017 over allegations it backs radical Islamists and seeks closer ties with Saudi arch rival Tehran.

Qatar vehemently denies the allegations.

The emir named Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani to lead the Qatari delegation to Tuesday’s summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the official QNA said.

Hopes of reconciliation were high after signs of a thaw between Qatar and its former allies.

Following Saudi King Salman’s invitation to the emir, Qatar’s foreign minister said there had been “some progress” in talks with Riyadh.

Some observers had said that the summit could pave the way for a “reconciliation conference”.

Others remained sceptical, saying he was only following protocol and had invited the Qatari leader to last year’s summit as well.

Qatar’s prime minister attended a series of talks in Saudi Arabia in May, one of the first high-level contacts of the two-year boycott.

Even before the Saudi-led blockade, relations had been rocky, in part because of Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera’s critical coverage of the region’s affairs and Doha’s support for the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011.

The rift has seen the two sides trade barbs on everything from access to the Muslim holy city of Mecca to alleged Twitter hacking.

AFP

Saudis Distance Themselves From US Naval Base Shooter

Military personnel carry a transfer case for fallen service member, U.S. Navy Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, during a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base on December 8, 2019 in Dover, Delaware. Mark Makela/Getty Images/AFP

 

Saudi Arabia sought to distance itself Saturday from a student who carried out a fatal shooting at an American naval base, as it seeks to repair its image of being an exporter of Islamic extremism.

The Saudi military trainee reportedly condemned the US as a “nation of evil” before going on a rampage Friday at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, killing three people and wounding eight.

The shooting marks a setback in the kingdom’s efforts to shrug off its longstanding reputation for promoting religious extremism after the September 11, 2001 attacks in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis.

The hashtag “Saudis stand with America” gained traction on social media after King Salman telephoned President Donald Trump to denounce the shooting as “heinous” and pledge cooperation with American officials to investigate the incident.

The king added in the phone call on Friday that the shooter, who was gunned down by police, “does not represent the Saudi people”.

The family of the shooter, identified as Mohammed al-Shamrani, echoed the same sentiment.

The pro-government Okaz newspaper quoted one of his uncles, Saad al-Shamrani, as saying that his actions do not reflect the “humanity and loyalty of his family” to the kingdom’s leadership.

Prince Khalid bin Salman, the king’s younger son and the deputy defence minister, offered his “sincerest condolences” to the families of the victims.

“Like many other Saudi military personnel, I was trained in a US military base, and we used that valuable training to fight side by side with our American allies against terrorism and other threats,” Prince Khalid said on Twitter.

“A large number of Saudi graduates of the Naval Air Station in Pensacola moved on to serve with their US counterparts in battlefronts around the world, helping to safeguard the regional and global security. (The) tragic event is strongly condemned by everyone in Saudi Arabia.”

 ‘Owe a debt’ 

The incident is unlikely to affect Washington’s close relations with Riyadh, with both governments seeking military and diplomatic cooperation to counter Shiite power Iran.

Seeking to emphasise the close ties, many Saudis on social media highlighted American media reports about two exchange students from Saudi Arabia who drowned last year in Massachusetts after rushing into a river to rescue two small children.

But Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suggested Riyadh should offer compensation to the victims.

“The government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims, and I think they’re going to owe a debt here given that this is one of their individuals,” DeSantis told US media.

Saudi citizens strongly rejected the view on social media, with one Twitter user saying: “The government of Saudi Arabia is not responsible for every single individual with a Saudi passport.”

Relatives of the victims of the 2001 attacks are also suing Saudi Arabia for compensation even though Riyadh has strongly denied complicity in the attacks.

Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has sought to project a moderate image of his austere kingdom, often associated in the West with jihadist ideology.

Prince Mohammed has promoted what observers call a de-emphasis on religion as he pursues a sweeping modernisation drive that has allowed mixed-gender music concerts and ended decades-long bans on cinemas and women drivers.

Saudi Arabia, which is home to Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina and where the practice of other religions is banned, has hosted a flurry of representatives of various Christian traditions in recent months.

But the self-styled reformer has also faced global criticism for the kingdom’s poor human rights record, including the jailing of multiple women activists, clerics and journalists.

AFP

Saudi Arabia Eliminates Gender-Segregated Entrances For Eateries

Prince Mohammed bin Salman

 

Restaurants and cafes in Saudi Arabia are no longer required to have gender-segregated entrances, officials said, in a further easing of social restrictions in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom.

Eateries have long required one entrance for single men and another for women and families, in a country where the once-powerful religious police zealously enforced sex segregation in public places for decades.

The ministry of municipalities and rural affairs said on Twitter Sunday it was eliminating several requirements for restaurants, including the need for “an entrance for bachelors and a separate entrance for families”.

It was unclear whether a restriction on seating inside restaurants will also be removed.

Restaurants are currently segregated into a “family” section for those accompanied by women and a “singles” area for men, though many have quietly taken down the barriers in recent years amid the kingdom’s sweeping liberalisation drive.

The latest reform was hailed by young Saudis but dismissed by arch-conservatives on social media, with one Twitter user saying it went “against sharia”, or Islamic law.

Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince , has sought to project a moderate, business-friendly image of his austere kingdom as he seeks to boost investment.

Prince Mohammed has clipped the powers of hardline clerics as he pursues a modernisation drive that has allowed mixed-gender music concerts and ended decades-long bans on cinemas and women drivers.

Until three years ago, the religious police elicited widespread fear in the kingdom, chasing men and women out of malls to pray and berating anyone seen mingling with the opposite sex.

The hardline enforcers of public morality, whose powers began waning even before Prince Mohammed rose to power, are now largely out of sight.

But the reforms have been accompanied by a crackdown on activists, including women urging faster reform, some of whom have accused interrogators of sexual harassment and torture. Saudi prosecutors deny the accusations.

AFP

Ruiz Rues Three-Month Party As Joshua Avenges Loss

 

 

Andy Ruiz blamed three months of partying for his one-sided world heavyweight championship defeat to Anthony Joshua on Saturday, admitting he had failed to train seriously for his first title defense.

The 30-year-old Mexican-American stunned the world in June when he floored Joshua four times on the way to a sensational upset victory in their first fight at Madison Square Garden.

Ruiz had drawn gasps of disbelief on Friday when the weigh-in revealed he had ballooned to 283 pounds (128.4 kilograms), fully 15 pounds heavier than his fighting weight six months ago.

Ruiz’s poor conditioning was ruthlessly exposed by Joshua on Saturday, who nimbly outboxed the chubby champion.

“Three months of partying and celebrating affected me, what can I say?” Ruiz told reporters after the fight.

Asked what he’d do differently if granted a rematch with Joshua, Ruiz replied: “Listen to my coach. Listen to my dad. And take it more seriously.”

Ruiz, who was granted a ritzy homecoming parade in his Californian hometown of Imperial following his win in June, said he had started his training camp for the rematch too late.

Trainer Manny Robles had wanted Ruiz back in the gym in July. Ruiz only started his camp in September.

“I’m OK, I’m just a little disappointed,” Ruiz said. “I should have listened to them. I tried to do the training on my own. I should have listened to them more. There’s no excuses…the partying and all that stuff got the best of me.”

Robles meanwhile refused to point the finger at Ruiz.

“You’ve got to be with your fighter 100 percent,” he said. “I’m not the first coach where situations happen in camp. I have to apologise to him because this is a team effort and when you don’t win it hurts. It always hurts.”

Ruiz, however, was able to take encouragement from the fight, insisting he would be a different proposition in a third encounter.

“For being out of shape I did pretty good, I took all his shots,” he said. “I got him a few times … If we’d have gone toe to toe … For the trilogy I know I’m going to be a lot better.

“Being overweight, I wasn’t fluid enough, I wasn’t moving the way I wanted to move. I think if I’m lighter I’m going to let my hands go and be a completely different fighter.”

Saudi Arabia’s First Female Car Race Driver Set To Compete In Kingdom

Saudi Arabia’s first female race driver Reema al-Juffali is pictured inside her car during an interview with AFP in Diriyah district in Riyadh on November 20, 2019, ahead of the international Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY series for electric zero-emission cars set for the weekend. PHOTO: FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

 

Sliding behind the wheel of a sleek electric SUV, Reema Juffali is set to blaze a trail in male-dominated motorsports as the first Saudi woman to race in the kingdom.

Such adrenalin rushes were unimaginable for women in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom until June last year, when it overturned the world’s only ban on female motorists as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s wide-ranging liberalisation drive.

Juffali, a 27-year-old who made her motoring debut just months after the decades-old ban ended, will compete Friday and Saturday in the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY, an all-electric race in Diriyah, close to the capital Riyadh.

“The ban was lifted last year and I never expected to race professionally,” said Juffali, sitting in her black-and-green Jaguar I-Pace, an electric sports utility vehicle.

“The fact that I am doing it… is amazing,” Juffali, clad in a racing suit, told AFP in an interview close to the racing circuit in Diriyah.

Juffali, who hails from the western city of Jeddah and was educated in the United States, will participate as what organisers call a “VIP” guest driver, becoming the first Saudi woman to race on home soil.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s sports authority chief, has touted it as a “watershed” moment for the kingdom.

“Reema will have thousands cheering her on, as a professional racing driver,” the prince told AFP.

Juffali, who made one of her first appearances in competitive racing at the F4 British Championship at Brands Hatch in April, has only about a year of professional racing experience under her belt.

But she has had a passion for fast cars since her teenage years and grew up watching Formula One.

She passed her driving test after she moved to the United States to study some years ago, and is now one of only a handful of Saudi woman to have obtained a “racing licence” in her home country, a mandatory requirement to race professionally.

Even outside the Kingdom, only a few Saudi women have raced professionally.

“For a lot of women who haven’t had the opportunity to learn how to drive, to get behind the wheel is definitely something scary,” explained Juffali.

“For a lot of women in Saudi, it’s something so far away.”

Juffali said her dream is to one day race at Le Mans — a 24-hour competition in France that is one of the world’s most prestigious and gruelling competitions.

In Riyadh, she will be racing against the season’s veterans but will not score any points.

 Thrill of speed

Prince Mohammed has sought to shake off his country’s ultra-conservative image by allowing greater freedoms for women, including easing so-called “guardianship” rules that give men arbitrary authority over female relatives.

But alongside reforms he has also overseen a sweeping crackdown on dissent.

Around a dozen women activists who long campaigned for the right to drive are on trial after being arrested last year, sparking widespread condemnation.

Some allege they were tortured and sexually harassed by interrogators; Saudi authorities deny the allegations.

The driving reform has been transformative for many Saudi women, freeing them from dependence on private chauffeurs or male relatives.

Newly mobile Saudi women are now embracing what was previously deemed a male entitlement — fast cars.

Many are defying the perception that only dainty cars in bright colours are popular with women drivers.

Auto showrooms tapping women clients have rolled out a line-up of cherry red Mini Coopers, but sales professionals say many exhibit an appetite for muscle cars like the Chevrolet Camaro or the Mustang convertible.

Some women are taking up drifting –- oversteering the car to slip and skid or even spin, and other high-speed daredevilry — which is illegal in public but tolerated in the controlled environment of some theme parks.

Clad in skinny jeans and Harley-Davidson T-shirts, some women are also training to ride motorbikes at a Riyadh driving school, a scene that is still a stunning anomaly in the conservative petro-state.

“Many (people) are surprised by all the changes happening in Saudi,” said Juffali.

“Seeing me in a car, racing… For a lot of people it’s a surprise, but I am happy to surprise people.”

AFP

Messi Scores On Argentina Return To Sink Brazil

 

Lionel Messi struck on his return to international duty Friday following a three-month ban as Argentina defeated fierce rivals Brazil 1-0 in a friendly in Riyadh.

The Barcelona forward was suspended by CONMEBOL for accusing South American football’s ruling body of “corruption” after he was sent off in July’s third-place play-off with Chile at the Copa America.

Messi netted the only goal of the game at the King Saud University Stadium on 13 minutes, tapping home the rebound after his penalty was saved by Brazil goalkeeper Alisson.

His effort came shortly after Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus rolled a spot-kick wide for Brazil, who were playing without the injured Neymar.

Messi, who scored with a pair of free-kicks in his last game with Barcelona, twice threatened from set pieces in the second half before Liverpool ‘keeper Alisson beat away a powerful drive from Paredes.

Rodrygo, the 18-year-old who scored a sensational Champions League hat-trick with Real Madrid this month, made his Brazil debut as he replaced Willian for the final 20 minutes.

However, Brazil were unable to find an equaliser as their winless run since capturing the Copa America title extended to five matches.

The meeting between the two South American giants was the second in Saudi Arabia in little over a year. Brazil beat Argentina 1-0 in Jeddah in October 2018.

Brazil also defeated Argentina 2-0 at home in the semi-finals of this year’s Copa America, a controversial match that left Messi complaining the hosts had benefited from favouritism.

Brazil will play a friendly against South Korea in Abu Dhabi on November 19, in their final game before South American qualifying starts for the 2022 World Cup in March.