tiptrot.com July 18, 2018

Russia kick-starts campaign with a thumping win

17 June 2018, 12:57 | Susie Olson

Russia and Saudi Arabia kick off the 2018 World Cup on June 14 Credit Getty Images

Russia and Saudi Arabia World Cup

The No. 70-ranked Russians got an automatic spot as tournament host and the Saudis, at No. 67, have the lowest ranking of the 31 countries which secured places via qualifying.

Singer Robbie Williams performed during a colourful opening ceremony before the match, marking the start of a feast of football that will see 64 games played at 12 venues over the next month.

The match was evenly contested for most of the first half as both teams adopted a cautious approach to build-up play. Again it was a good cross from but it was a free header from the striker, whose physical presence could not be dealt with by the defender. The Russian front man smiled and shook his hand. In the second half of the match the goals were scored by Artyom Dzyuba, Denis Cheryshev and Alexander Golovin.

Luckily, Cheryshev did his team-mate a favour by lifting the ball over one challenge, stepping inside another and drilling the ball past Abdullah.

The host nation had the momentum towards the 20th minute and were unlucky not to have found the second goal through their high press. It was his first touch, having come on for Smolov a minute before.

Cheryshev added another with an epic left footed strike from the edge of the box, before Golovin assured he is man of the match with a brilliant free-kick to end the game 5-0.

It was a goal that prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to turn to the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, seated alongside Federation Internationale de Football Association chief Gianni Infantino, and shake his hand. His day could not have gone better. Luckily for Russian Federation, it has a manageable group and faces in its first game a team only three spots above in the FIFA rankings in Saudi Arabia.

Russian Federation kicked off their World Cup in style on Thursday, thumping Saudi Arabia 5-0 in front of an ecstatic crowd in Moscow as President Vladimir Putin basked in the glow.

The Gulf country finished second in the Group B of AFC qualifications, edging out Australia on account of a better goal difference. We won our first game at (last summer's) Confederations Cup and it didn't take us too far.

Golovin: "For us, each game is like the last".

Meanwhile, double scorer Cheryshev had trouble summing up his emotions.

Russia's Denis Cheryshev, who scored twice, said: "There are no words to express what I'm feeling right now". Visit our Facebook page where you can send us a message or leave us a comment.

As for the Saudi camp, there was no trying to sugarcoat the result.

The 21st edition of the World Cup took flight Thursday with a carnival of colors, a parade of performers, 12 presidents, three prime ministers, a crown prince, past tournament heroes, a harpist, a supermodel, firebirds and a wolf. It was a mixture of talent from Russian Federation and mistakes from Saudi Arabia which settled the result.

And he had a message for Russia's fans.

"Deservedly, they were beaten 5-0, I think they exposed the standard that they are playing at, the level of their league", Okocha said.

Artem Dzuyba netted a 3rd before terrific late efforts from Cheryshev and Aleksandr Golovin wrapped up Russia's first win since October to launch their Group A campaign in style.

Subs not used: Lunev, Semenov, Kudryashov, Granat, Aleksey Miranchuk, Anton Miranchuk, Erokhin, Smolnikov, Gabulov.

On the break Zobnin drove forward and his shot was parried clumsily by Al-Mayoof as Saudi Arabia cleared the danger.

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