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Russia romp to World Cup opening over Saudi Arabia 5-0

By Emma McColl

Yuriy Gazinsky 12
Denis Cheryshev 43, 91
Artem Dzybua 71
Denis Cheryshev
Alexandra Golovin 94


Russia opened the 2018 FIFA World Cup with the second-highest win ever recorded in an opening match.

Standout performances by Denis Cheryshev and Aleksandr Golovin led the host nation to a 5-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia.

Yuriy Gazinsky put away the opening goal of the World Cup – and his first international goal – early in the first half when he headed in Alekandr Golovin’s cross.

The tournament’s first goal also triggered the first use in a World Cup match of the video assistant referee system (VAR) system, when a Saudi player claimed he had been pushed in the lead-up. On the sideline and in the control room, the technology swung into action, the VAR ruling that the Saudi player had slipped, and the goal stood.

Super sub Denis Cheryshev doubled Russia’s advantage with a second just before half-time, and Artem Dzybua extended Russia’s lead to 3-0 with 20 minutes to go.

Cheryshev proved a worthy replacement for the injured Dzagoev when he scored his second in added time at the end of the 90 minutes.

CSKA Moscow midfielder, Aleksandr Golovin, who set up two goals, completed the scoring in the fourth minute of added time with a perfectly-placed free-kick that bent around the Saudi wall and inside the near post.

Russia came in to the tournament as the lowest-ranked team (70) and there were even concerns the opening match might be an embarrassment for the host nation.

Although the Saudis enjoyed more than 60 per cent of possession, the Russians were swift on the counter-attack and clinical in front of goal.

From here, Russia will now face Egypt next Tuesday as they move on to St Petersburg. Saudi Arabia need to source out a miracle however, before facing Uruguay in Rostov on the same day.

Match Statistics:

Russia: 39%
Saudi Arabia: 61%

Goal attempts:
Russia: 13 (11 on target)
Saudi Arabia: 6 (4 on target)

Russia: 6
Saudi Arabia: 2

Russia: 18
Saudi Arabia: 9

Team Lineups:
1 Akinfeev, 2 Fernandes, 3 Kutepov, 4 Ignashevich, 18 Zhirkov, 11 Zobnin, 8 Gazinsky, 17 Golovin, 19 Samedov (64’), 10 Smolov (70’), 9 Dzagoev (24’)
12 Lunev, 5 Semenov, 6 Cheryshev (24’), 7 Kuzyaev (64’), 13 Kudryashov, 14 Granat, 15 Miranchuk, 16 Miranchuk, 21 Erokhin, 22 Dzubya (70’), 23 Smolnikov, 20 Gabulov

1 Al-Muaiouf, 6 Al-Breik, 3 Hawsawi, 5 Hawsawi, 13 Al-Shahrani, 17 Al- Jassam, 14 Otayf (64’), 18 Al Dawsari, 8 Al-Shehri (72’), 7 Al-Faraj, 10 Al-Sahlawi (85’)
21 Al-Mosailem, 2 Al-Harbi, 4 Al-Bulaihi, 9 Bahbir (72’), 11 Al-Khaibri, 12 Kanno, 15 Al-Khaibari, 16 Al-Mogahwi, 19 Al-Muwalla (64’), 20 Asiri (85’), 23 Hawsawi, 22 Al-Owais

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