Rampant Russia pummel Saudi Arabia 5-0 in World Cup opener
MOSCOW: Denis Cheryshev struck twice for Russia as the World Cup hosts thumped Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening match of the tournament in Moscow on Thursday.
Iury Gazinsky scored after 12 minutes and Cheryshev added a second before the break after coming on as an injury replacement for Alan Dzagoev.
Artem Dzuyba netted a third before terrific late efforts from Cheryshev and Aleksandr Golovin wrapped up Russia's first win since October to launch their Group A campaign in style.
Russia headed into the curtainraiser at the 80,000-capacity Luzhniki, the crucible of Russian and Soviet sport, without a victory in over eight months and ranked a lowly 70th in the world.
For Saudi Arabia it was a return to the global showpiece for the first time in 12 years, with their only previous finals wins at the 1994 World Cup.
Only South Africa, in 2010, have failed to advance from the group stage as the host nation and a seven-match winless run had ramped up the pressure on Stanislav Cherchesov's side.
A lack of an attacking threat in recent outings was a primary concern for Russia going into a group campaign in which they will also face Egypt and Uruguay.
The opening goal came soon after, as Saudi Arabia failed to clear a corner and a curling cross in from the left by Golovin picked out an unmarked Gazinsky to head low into the far corner.
It was a goal that prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to turn to the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, seated alongside FIFA chief Gianni Infantino, and shake his hand.
Russia lost Dzagoev to a hamstring injury midway through the first half, the CSKA Moscow midfielder clutching his hamstring as he crumpled to the turf.
But his replacement, former Real Madrid winger Cheryshev, celebrated his recent recall to the national side with Russia's second goal two minutes before half-time. Cheryshev was still left with plenty of work to do inside the area after a pass from Roman Zobnin, brilliantly flicking the ball past two closing defenders before rifling into the roof of the net.
Saudi briefly threatened early in the second half when an inviting cross in from the right skipped just beyond the reach of Taiseer Al-Jassam.
Russia then nearly grabbed a third when Abdullah Al-Muaiouf spilled a low drive from Roman Zobnin, the Saudi goalkeeper recovering just time in time to nudge the ball away from Smolov.
The forward was soon replaced by Dzyuba, who struck almost immediately by heading another Golovin cross beyond a helpless Muaiouf in the 71st minute. Cheryshev hammered in a fourth with the outside of his left in stoppage time and Golovin capped a magnificent performance by bending in a last-gasp free-kick.
Russia meet Egypt in their next match on June 19 in Saint Petersburg, while Saudi Arabia will look to rebound against group favourites Rostov-on-Don a day later.
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P S G-10 hours ago
Terror sponsor washed out in the first match
dasdeebee-10 hours ago-Follow
OMG! Russia just hammered the daylights as well as the nightlights out of a terrible Saudi Arabian football team. 5 - 0, simply unbelievable!
Krk-delhi-10 hours ago-Follow
Saudis probably on fast today.
Abhishek Abhishek-Delhi-10 hours ago
Looks like the World Cup is already over for Saudi Arabia....a comeback would be a miracle
Dilip Rathod-8 hours ago-Follow
Well begun is half done, congrats Russia.
Salahudeen-9 hours ago-Follow
Look at some people here trolling saudi... They must have not played football in their life... U funny people as long as you are there it is a good entertainment reading ur stupid comments
Shiva-Others-9 hours ago-Follow
If Saudis would have played with their traditional dress, easily they would have defeated Russia better than 5-0 margin.
Anil Dharan-New Delhi-10 hours ago-Follow
I would say that SA lost to Russia rather than Russia beat SA. Very poor performance by S. Arabia....disgraced all Asian Teams.
Vijay Raghavan-8 hours ago-Follow
It was like India against Afghanistan on the first day of test. I pity the poor observers of fast. They must have been weakened so much from lack of food that they could not bring their A game to the table.
Guest-9 hours ago-Follow
5-0 what a match!! Good for Team Russia.
Abhijit-Hyderabad-9 hours ago-Follow
Asian teams have been only participants and this time it isn''t different
Ramendra-Kolkata-9 hours ago-Follow
Not only Russia's performance but their eye catching stadium sculpture can also compete with any western or european soccer arena,just amazing and beautiful.
Honor-7 hours ago-Follow
if India was in the place of KSA today the scoreline 25:0
Sanjoy Pandey-2 hours ago-Follow
Congratulations to Russia. The Arabs were totally outplayed.
Tanmoy-Maharashtra.-3 hours ago-Follow
Nobody thought Russia will win by such a big margin (5-0).
Joe Kool Joe-6 hours ago-Follow
Maybe by mistake they sent there netball team.
Joe Kool Joe-7 hours ago-Follow
6 Love would have sounded better but we all happy with 5-0. Well done Russia.
Abhineet Vyas-8 hours ago-Follow
What a win! Good start for Russia :D
Bhupin Kumar-1 hour ago-Follow
this is just the beginning of a fifa world cup more interesting
matches are coming ahead
Aryan Thakur-9 hours ago-Follow
Russia opened account in FIFA 2018 with a bang.
Anil Dixit Anil-10 hours ago
Eid gift with love from Russia
bhavik k-Toronto-3 hours ago-Follow
This world Cup is boring without Italy,Netherland and USA it''s really bad rules for qualifications