Russian Federation crush toothless Saudi Arabia 5-0


The tempo slowed and the atmosphere flattened after the restart, giving the whole thing the feel of a friendly match.

In the injury time, Russian Federation scored a couple of goals more, as Denis Cheryshev bagged his second of the game, while Aleksandr Golovin made it five with a terrific free-kick.

But he had no issue with being left out of the line-up for the opening game by coach Stanislav Cherchesov.

A lengthy address from Putin was followed by a short speech from Fifa president Gianni Infantino - but eventually the words ended and the football finally began.

Sadly, the rankings also suggested it would not be high on quality, as Russian Federation came into the tournament as the lowest-ranked hosts in history, at 70th. Zenit St Petersburg striker Alexander Kokorin was lost to a serious knee injury in March, adding to the absence of defenders Georgi Dzhikiya and Viktor Vasin.

However, despite extensive experience, the team of cherchesova manages to play extremely volatile, not knowing victories in the last seven and losing four of them.

Russian Federation looked more purposeful from the start as they poured into the vast spaces on both flanks and it was no surprise when they opened the scoring after 12 minutes as Gazinsky was left unmarked to nod home Golovin's deep left-wing cross.

When Dzagoev limped out midway through the first half with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, Russia's hopes of achieving anything significant looked to be leaving the pitch with him.

Saudi Arabia team manager Juan Antonio Pizzi couldn't help but feel disappointed with his squad's performance citing that they must change their way of attack to have a good chance of moving on. Saudi failed to clear a corner, Aleksandr Golovin crossed, and Iury Gazinski guided a header into the far corner.

The World Cup favorites - Germany, Spain, France, Brazil - enter the fray from Friday onwards.

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In their first World Cup campaign since 2006, and searching for their first win at a World Cup since 1994, they will need to show a vast improvement if they are to take anything home from this competition.

Russian Federation easily demolished Saudi Arabia in the first match for the 2018 World Cup and achieved the biggest opening day win since 1934.

"The team have to come out and play", Akinfeev said after a 1-0 friendly loss to Austria last month in which Russian Federation managed no shots on target.

He then scored a screamer, Russia's fourth, in the added time of the second half.

Saudi Arabia: Al-Maluf Al-Break, U. Hawsawi, O., Hawsawi, Al-Shahrani - UTair (Al-Muwallad, 65), Al-Faraj - Al-Shehri (Bahabri, 73), Al-Jassim, Al-Dawsari - As-Sahlawi (Assiri, 83).

Day 1 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup is in the books.

However, overall, it was an incredible performance from the hosts right from the opening day ceremony to the first game of the World Cup. Denis Cheryshev stepped off the bench with a superb brace, having replaced the injured Alan Dzagoev on 24 minutes. However the hosts were very comfortable as they pressed Saudi Arabia's defense whenever they could and that led to their second goal.

Yury Gazinsky gave the hosts the lead after 12 minutes when he headed home Aleksandr Golovin's cross. The 22-year-old also displayed quality in possession.

A crowd of some 10,000 people, including many families with young children, gathered in a fanzone on a hill above the stadium with giant screens set up to watch the game.

"We're a football country, not just an ice hockey or basketball or volleyball country, but a football one too". We don't know if Mohamed Salah is going to play [for Egypt].