Russian Federation rips Saudi Arabia 5-0 in World Cup opener

Calvin Saunders
June 15, 2018

Inspired by the home crowd in the opening match of the World Cup, Russia ended a 16-year wait for victory. After controversy surrounded the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russian Federation and the 2022 finals in Qatar, the vote was the first to be decided by the FIFA congress.

A lack of an attacking threat in recent outings was a primary concern for Russian Federation going into a group campaign in which they will also face Egypt and Uruguay.

Their striker Mohammed Alsahlawi has 28 goals in 40 caps - albeit eight in two matches against East Timor - and trained with Manchester United this season. Substitute Denis Cheryshev scored twice - the first after a piece of skill that would have graced a Lionel Messi highlights reel - and the second a superb shot in stoppage time.

Every World Cup needs the host nation to energise the population, and Russian Federation have ticked that box with this result. Thank you for entrusting us with the privilege of hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2026.

Dzagoev's replacement, Cheryshev, certainly stepped into the breach by scoring two goals after replacing the CSKA Moscow midfielder, including a stunner to make it 4-0, but the hosts can not afford to have their resources depleted even further by the loss of one of their best players.

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The last time the US hosted the World Cup was in 1994, with Brazil winning the tournament at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

Russia's fans, forced to suffer years of poor performances in friendlies that left their team an embarrassing 70th in the world rankings will not care about the quality of the opponents.

Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi had earlier said that Saudi Arabia would play without fear on Thursday.

They'll certainly be hoping they can get a similar level of support during the tournament - all be it for their style of football than their fashion sense - as they open their World Cup campaign against Morocco on Friday.

Saudi Arabia's route to the knockout round is much more hard. This new format was introduced so that more games could be played as a whole, but the winners would still be only playing seven games.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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