World Cup hosts, Russia, opened the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a scintillating 5-0 win over Asian nation, Saudi Arabia.
It was a dream opening game for the first time World Cup hosts who started the Mundial same way they did the Confederations’ Cup last year, with a win over a feeble Saudi team. Saudi Arabia’s Argentine coach, Juan Antonio Pizzi, talked about putting their opponents under pressure but none of such was on display. The Green Falcons caressed the ball without penetration in the attacking third, and they never disturbed keeper Igor Akinfeev in the Russian goal.
In front of a mammoth 78,000 spectators at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, Russia, who looked out of form coming into the tournament on the back of four consecutive losses, went ahead in the 12th minute through midfielder Yuri Gazinskiy.
A hamstring injury to star player Alan Dzagoev drew groans from the crowd troubled but his substitute, Denis Cheryshev calmed the nerves with a cool finish following some wonderful technique from the 27-year old former Real Madrid player. The Villareal midfielder left two Saudi defenders for dead in the six-yard box before finding the near post for his first international goal.
Saudi Arabia crumbled and Russia capitalised, substitute Artem Dzyuba adding the third goal twenty minutes before the end, while two further goals soon followed in added time to treat watching president Vladimir Putin to a fiesta.
Cherysev’s second was a goal worthy of winning the World Cup. The midfielder controlled a knockdown and curled into the top right corner with the outside of his foot.
Alexander Golovin’s stunning curler of a free kick at the death from just outside the penalty area capped a wonderful performance by Stanislav Cherchesov’s team.
The full time was music to the Moscow crowd, and indeed the nation, with the 5-0 win breaking the record for the highest opening day winning margin in the World Cup previously held by Brazil.
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