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The 2018 World Cup opened in spectacular fashion as host nation Russia defied their recent poor form to smash five past Saudi Arabia and record the biggest win in the opening game of a World Cup since 1934.

Stanislav Cherchesov’s team had not won in their past seven matches and had been criticised from all sides, including a series of barbed comments from Russian president Vladimir Putin.

But in front of a largely partisan crowd of 78,011 at the Luzhniki Stadium they never looked in danger against a naïve Green Falcons’ side that seemed only too willing to gift possession to their opponents.

A completely unmarked Yuri Gazinsky headed his first goal for Russia before substitute Denis Cheryshev evaded several weak challenges and smashed home at the near post close to half-time.

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

But substitute Artem Dzyuba illuminated a match of often dubious quality with a precise header to extend his team’s lead just minutes after replacing Fedor Smolov.

And as the match moved into injury time the impressive Cheryshev smashed home with a crisp strike into the top corner before the superb Aleksandr Golovin curled a free-kick around the wall.

It put the seal on a sensational and unexpected start to the World Cup for the hosts – and gives them a real chance of qualifying from the group stage.

More to follow.

Line-ups

Russia

  • 1Akinfeev
  • 2Figueira Fernandes
  • 3Kutepov
  • 4Ignashevich
  • 18Zhirkov
  • 8Gazinskiy
  • 11Zobnin
  • 19SamedovSubstituted forKuzyaevat 64′minutes
  • 9DzagoevSubstituted forCheryshevat 24′minutes
  • 17GolovinBooked at 88mins
  • 10SmolovSubstituted forDzyubaat 70′minutes

Substitutes

  • 5Semenov
  • 6Cheryshev
  • 7Kuzyaev
  • 12Lunev
  • 13Kudryashov
  • 14Granat
  • 15Al Miranchuk
  • 16An Miranchuk
  • 20Gabulov
  • 21Erokhin
  • 22Dzyuba
  • 23Smolnikov

Saudi Arabia

  • 1Al-Mayoof
  • 6Al-Burayk
  • 3Os Hawsawi
  • 5Om Hawsawi
  • 13Al Shahrani
  • 14OtayfSubstituted forAl Muwallad Al-Harbiat 64′minutes
  • 8Al ShehriSubstituted forBahebriat 74′minutes
  • 17Al JassamBooked at 90mins
  • 7Al Faraj
  • 18Al Dawsari
  • 10Al SahlawiSubstituted forAbu Radeah Aseriat 85′minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Al-Harbi
  • 4Albulayhi
  • 9Bahebri
  • 11Al-Khaibri
  • 12Kanno
  • 15Al Khaibari
  • 16Al-Mogahwi
  • 19Al Muwallad Al-Harbi
  • 20Abu Radeah Aseri
  • 21Al-Mosailem
  • 22Al Owais
  • 23M Hawsawi
Referee:
Néstor Pitana
Attendance:
78,011

Match Stats

Home TeamRussiaAway TeamSaudi Arabia
Possession
Home39%
Away61%
Shots
Home14
Away6
Shots on Target
Home7
Away0
Corners
Home6
Away2
Fouls
Home22
Away10

Live Text

Match ends, Russia 5, Saudi Arabia 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Russia 5, Saudi Arabia 0.

Goal!

Goal! Russia 5, Saudi Arabia 0. Aleksandr Golovin (Russia) from a free kick with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.

Booking

Taiseer Al Jassam (Saudi Arabia) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Taiseer Al Jassam (Saudi Arabia).

Aleksandr Golovin (Russia) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Yasir Al Shahrani (Saudi Arabia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Aleksandr Golovin (Russia).

Goal!

Goal! Russia 4, Saudi Arabia 0. Denis Cheryshev (Russia) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Artem Dzyuba with a headed pass.

Foul by Fahad Al Muwallad (Saudi Arabia).

Sergei Ignashevich (Russia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Mohammed Al-Burayk (Saudi Arabia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Denis Cheryshev (Russia).

Corner, Russia. Conceded by Omar Hawsawi.

Booking

Aleksandr Golovin (Russia) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Omar Hawsawi (Saudi Arabia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Aleksandr Golovin (Russia).

Salem Al Dawsari (Saudi Arabia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Daler Kuzyaev (Russia).

Corner, Russia. Conceded by Mohannad Aseri.

Foul by Hattan Bahebri (Saudi Arabia).

Yuri Zhirkov (Russia) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Substitution

Substitution, Saudi Arabia. Mohannad Aseri replaces Mohammed Al Sahlawi.

Attempt missed. Daler Kuzyaev (Russia) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Aleksandr Golovin.

Attempt blocked. Hattan Bahebri (Saudi Arabia) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Salman Al Faraj.

Mohammed Al-Burayk (Saudi Arabia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Yuri Zhirkov (Russia).

Foul by Taiseer Al Jassam (Saudi Arabia).

Daler Kuzyaev (Russia) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Attempt missed. Roman Zobnin (Russia) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Aleksandr Golovin with a cross following a set piece situation.

Foul by Yasir Al Shahrani (Saudi Arabia).

Roman Zobnin (Russia) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Taiseer Al Jassam (Saudi Arabia) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Yuri Gazinskiy (Russia).

Omar Hawsawi (Saudi Arabia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Artem Dzyuba (Russia).

Substitution

Substitution, Saudi Arabia. Hattan Bahebri replaces Yahya Al Shehri.

Attempt missed. Salem Al Dawsari (Saudi Arabia) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

Goal!

Goal! Russia 3, Saudi Arabia 0. Artem Dzyuba (Russia) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Aleksandr Golovin with a cross.

Substitution

Substitution, Russia. Artem Dzyuba replaces Fedor Smolov.

goal