Host nation Russian Federation thrash Saudi Arabia in World Cup opener

Kristopher Nichols
June 17, 2018

Outside Luzhniki Stadium, one of two venues in the capital, Saudis mixed with Senegalese, Colombians with Koreans, Mexicans with Moroccans.

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

Russian Federation leads Group A with three points while the Saudi Team stays at the bottom with 0 points and plays in Group A alongside Uruguay, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Cheryshev hammered in a fourth with the outside of his left foot in stoppage time and Golovin capped a magnificent performance by bending in a last-gasp free-kick.

The victory was a great start for the hosts who will now carry momentum going forward, while Mohamed Salah, Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani lick their lips in anticipation.

In control games the team is also not impressed with the outstanding, losing four of the last seven matches with a total score of 11:2.

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.

Saudi Arabia - the second-lowest ranked team - have had a comparably tumultuous build-up to the tournament and are without a win in eight months. If they can do likewise against Egypt next week, they have an excellent chance of making the knockout stages.

Defeats against France, Brazil and Portugal may have affected Russia's momentum, however, they will look to use their home advantage and come up with the goods when it matters.

Saudi Juan Antonio Pizzi is encouraging his side to attack, and captain Osama Hawsawi says they are confident of getting something from the game. The main burden will be placed on the backs of veterans and the leaders of the team Igor Akinfeev, Alan Dzagoev and Fedor Smolov and Aleksandr Golovin.

Neither coach made any changes at the break, with Russia's Smolov the first to threaten in the second half with a deflected effort.

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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.

The Russian team defeated Saudi Arabia in the opening match of the 2018 world Cup.

Gazinskiy scored the opening goal in the 12th minute, leaping high to guide a cross from the left past Abdullah al-Mayouf and inside the left upright. In a game which lacked tempo and intensity in the early stages, the Sbornaya still managed to put five goals past a hapless Saudi Arabia side. Only South Africa, in 2010, have fallen at the group stage as hosts but poor form combined with a series of injuries have left Russian Federation in disarray. Despite Saudi Arabia have 61 percent possession, Russian Federation had 14 shots, seven on frame.

The 2018 World Cup opened today with an extravagant ceremony at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

It was a convincing 5-0 victory for Russian Federation, as the host nation got three goals from two substitutes to take all three points. Enthusiasm was at a premium, but there are some players with star quality and an ability to win them the game.

"We have to take all the criticisms and turn it into something positive", Cherchesov told reporters.

"We have been studying our opponents from day one".

"We are playing the hosts and are very ambitious. It is just a different adversary".

"I can't describe how happy and positive I feel right now", said Yelena Krasnykh, a 21-year-old student.

"I could never have dreamed of anything like this. As for our strategy, we must change", Pizzi closed.

"We have now to forget this feeling of shame and start thinking about the next match".

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