The hosts Russia secured a comfortable 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia in the opening match of the FIFA World Cup 2018.
Goals from Yuri Gazinskiy and Denis Cheryshev have handed Russia a dream start to the tournament.
The hosts exposed Saudi Arabia at the back and dominated them throughout the match. The first goal of the 2018 World Cup came at the 11th minute. Yury Gazinsky scored from a header. And, the second came from the substitute Cheryshev courtesy of a classy finish.
Just after 21 minutes of the match, Russia’s best player Dzagoev was down clutching his hamstring. He went down off the ball and remained on the ground. The manager took no risk and subbed him straight away.
Some reports suggest the hamstring might have ended the dream of Dzagoev. But it came in a blessing in disguise for former Real Madrid star, Cheryshev. He scored his first international goal and that too in the grandest stage of them all.
At the break, Russia were 2-0 up, and Saudi Arabia didn’t have much to offer. After the start of the 2nd half, Saudi Arabia couldn’t crawl their way back in the game.
But the hosts made sure it’s done and dusted at the 71st minute of the match. Another substitute player, Artem Dzyuba scored from a header just after 89 seconds coming off the bench.
This is the quickest substitute goal at a World Cup tournament since Marcin Zewlakow scored for Poland vs the USA in 2002.
The forward peeled off the back of Omar Hawsawi in the box and guided his header into the bottom right corner. Saudi were opened up at the back once again, and Russia took no time to punish them.
Just when Saudi Arabia thought their misery is over, Cherysev pulled off a stunner in the extra time. And, that was still not the end of the night. Aleksandr Golovin scored a stunning free kick and made it 5-0 for the hosts. An absolute goal fest and an opening match to remember for Russia and their fans.
FT: Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia
Gazinsky 12′ | Cheryshev 43′, 90+1′ | Dzyuba 71′ | Golovin 90+4′