Hosts Russia got off to a perfect start as they beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening game of the 2018 World Cup in Moscow.
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Russia took the lead early on through Yury Gazinskiy’s header and doubled their lead just before the break as Denis Cheryshev slammed home after fine footwork. Artem Dzyuba jumped off the bench to nod home to make it 3-0, then two fine strikes late on from Cheryshev and then Aleksandar Golovin, who also grabbed two assists, completed the rout.
Despite Saudi Arabia having plenty of possession they hardly threatened the Russian goal as the hosts momentarily went top of Group A ahead of Egypt playing Uruguay on Friday.
Next up for Russia is a clash against Egypt on June 19 in Saint Petersburg. Saudi Arabia take on Uruguay on June 20 in Rostov-on-Don.
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A rapid pace to the game early on saw both teams eager to impress and Russia had the first real chance of the game as Fernandes pulled the ball but the shot was blocked.
Soon after Russia took the lead as a superb cross from the left from Aleksandar Golovin found Gazinskiy at the back post who headed home his first international goal. 1-0 to Russia just 12 minutes in.
Smolov then had a shot deflected towards the top corner but Al-Mayoof clawed it away as the hosts started superbly.
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As the game wore on Saudi Arabia settled down and Al Sahlawi nearly got on the end of an inviting cross but Russia cleared for a corner.
Dzagoev was then replaced by Cheryshev as one of Russia’s key players went down with what looked like a pretty serious hamstring injury. However the hosts were very comfortable as they pressed Saudi Arabia’s defense whenever they could and that led to their second goal.
A slice of luck saw Russia grab the ball and Golovin broke free before teeing upRoman Zobnin who played in Cheryshev. The Villarreal man controlled superbly and then smashed home to make it 2-0.
Russia sat back after the break and Saudi Arabia almost pulled one back as a cross from the right just evaded both Al Sahlawi and Al Jassam.
On the break Zobnin drove forward and his shot was parried clumsily by Al-Mayoof as Saudi Arabia cleared the danger.
Golovin then picked out substitute Dzuyba to nod home with his first touch, as Russia eased to victory and the home fans rejoiced.
It would get better in stoppage time as Cheryshev scored a stunner with the outside of his left foot, then Golovin curled home a beautiful free kick to make it 5-0.
What a start for Russia.