Russians into flying start, pound hapless Saudis 5-0

Mazino Dickson

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The 2018 FIFA World Cup got off to a bright start on Thursday at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, with the hosts dishing Saudi Arabia a humiliating 5-0 pounding after three goals from substitutes.

After a glamorous but simple and short opening ceremony, the day’s major actors quickly settled into the tournament and Group A opening match between the hosts and Saudi Arabia.

The match watched by a crowd of 78,011 in the stadium was quick to provide plenty of cheers, with substitutes Denis Cheryshev (who got a brace) and Artem Dzyuba getting on the scoresheet.

In the 12th minute, Iury Gazinsky scored the opening goal of the 2018 World Cup by heading home a cross as hosts Russia made a dream start to the tournament.

Cheryshev, who replaced Alan Dzagoev following the latter’s hamstring injury after 22 minutes, made a brave run into the goal area to add the second goal in the 43rd minute.

They fittingly led Saudi Arabia 2-0 at halftime, even though they were behind on the statistics sheet which correctly had Saudi Arabia leading on all forms.

Failed response

Saudi Arabia continued to look threatening going forward, but they were not with the needed firepower even with the 64th minute introduction of forward Fahad Almuwallad for attacking midfielder Abdullah Otayf.

The hosts went on to extend their lead in the 71st minute through Dzyuba, who was scoring about two minutes after replacing Fedor Smolov.

Cheryshev and Aleksander Golovin scored in the first and fourth minutes of injury time respectively to make the scoreline massive, even as it belittled Saudi Arabia’s performance.

It helped Russia though to record the biggest victory by any host country in a World Cup opening match since 1934 when Italy crushed the U.S. 7-1.

The  world Cup continues on Friday with three matches.