World Cup 2018 kicked off with a bang this afternoon as Saudi Arabia were hammered by hosts Russia in Moscow.
Despite not winning in their last seven, the hosts were the favourites going into the game but I don’t think anybody expected Russia to win in the style that they did: a 5-0 win was the perfect start for the Russians.
Yury Gazinsky scored the opener, heading home a cross having found himself completely unmarked. The header was Gazinsky’s first goal for his country and the first goal of the 2018 World Cup.
The Russians doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time when substitute Denis Cheryshev finished at the near post. Cheryshev was introduced to the game after 25 minutes as CSKA Moscow’s Alan Dzagoev was forced off with a hamstring injury.
The second half started in a lacklustre manner with the Russians comfortable with their two goal lead but in the 71st minute, another substitute was on the scoresheet for the hosts. This time it was Zenit St Petersburg’s Artem Dzyuba who headed past Al-Mayoof and brought the game back to life. Dzyuba scored just 89 seconds after coming on: the fastest goal by a substitute at the World Cup since 2002 when Poland’s Marcin Zewlakow scored in Poland’s 3-1 win against USA.
Denis Cheryshev got his second as he made it 4-0 in second half stoppage time with a terrific strike into the top corner, much to the delight of the Russian crowd. But there was still more to come from the Russians as they won a free-kick 25 yards out in the dying moments of the game. Many thought that Denis Cheryshev would take the free-kick for his hat-trick but he stepped away and left it for Man of the Match, Alexandr Golovin who curled it past the wall and into the back of the net to make it 5 for the Russians.
It was a great start to the World Cup for the hosts as their President watched from the stands with FIFA president Gianni Infantino. Before kick off, Russian fans weren’t too optimistic about their chances in the competition as some criticised their squad calling it one of the worst they’ve had for a long time but they may be more optimistic after watching their side humiliate Saudi Arabia today.
It was undoubtedly their easiest game of the group but many Russians will be happy tonight after their sides five-star performance today!
For Saudi Arabia, things don’t look good at all. Their defending today was woeful against Russia and they still have to defend against the likes of Luis Suarez, Edison Cavani and Mohamed Salah who will be rubbing their hands together after watching Saudi Arabia’s defending today.