MOSCOW, JUNE 14 (MExN): Hosts Russia defeated Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening match of the FIFA World Cup 2018 at the Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital of Moscow.
Following a glitzy opening ceremony, goals from Yuri Gazinsky, Denis Cheryshev, Artem Dzyuba and Denis Cheryshev ensured a thumping victory for the hosts.
In the 12th minute, Yuri Gazinsky scored the opening goal of the 2018 World Cup, leaping high (and possibly shoving his marker in the back) to guide a cross from the left past Abdullah Al-Mayouf and inside the left upright.
The great start for the hosts was marred by an injury to their crucial midfielder Alan Dzagoev, who went down with a hamstring injury. It remains unclear how much damaged he sustained, as he limped off the pitch halfway into the opening forty five.
The second goal came in the 44th minute as substitute Denis Cheryshev scored minutes away from half time. With Russia on the counter-attack and a three-on-two advantage, he picked the ball up on the inside left channel from Smolov. He cut inside and took a touch as two defenders dived in, selling themselves completely. With the goal at his mercy, Cheryshev proceeded to blast the ball into the roof of the net from about 12 yards.
Having been on the field mere seconds, Artem Dzyuba scored in the 73rd minute with a wonderful header. The ball was curled his way from the right flank by Zobnin and the big man made no mistake. From eight yards, he beat Osama Hawsawi and placed an unstoppable header into the bottom right-hand corner.
Denis Cheryshev scored the goal of the night, floating the ball into the top corner with an swish of his left boot from the edge of the Saudi penalty area in the 90th minute.
Russia weren’t done yet as Cheryshev scored his second ever international goal two minutes into extra time. His first was sublime, showing great close control. His second was also a beauty, sending the ball high past Al-Mayouf with the outside of his left boot from the left side of the penalty area.
It was a great start for the hosts, whose supporters were fearing the worst going into this game given their poor form in the run up to the World Cup. With the win, Russia get three points on the board and lead group A.