Russia smashes Saudi Arabia in World Cup opener

Hope Soto
June 17, 2018

However, the Russians produced their finest World Cup display in front of their President to humiliate Saudi Arabia, thrashing 5 goals past them.

"We had a certain (game) plan seeing them (the Saudi Arabian team) keeping the ball, while we are pressing and catching them on counter-offensives", Dzyuba told journalists after the match.

Saudi Arabia were continuing to give possession away easily and, from another concession dangerously close to their own area, Golovin fired over.

The 2018 World Cup opened today with an extravagant ceremony at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

Russia's Denis Cheryshev, who scored twice, said: "There are no words to express what I'm feeling right now".

"Even if we lose, we'll bring home political, economical and negotiating potential, " the crown prince said.

Pizzi is the team's third coach since they qualified for the World Cup and, despite numerous training camps and plenty of positives in narrow recent defeats against Italy and Germany, they seemed woefully undercooked.

The Saudis lost their past three games but remain upbeat at their first World Cup appearance for 12 years.

Dzyuba spent half the season on loan after reported disputes with Zenit St. Petersburg management, but forced his way back into the Russian Federation team with strong play.

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The host nation had the momentum towards the 20th minute and were unlucky not to have found the second goal through their high press.

With the five goals against the Saudis, a draw could be enough against either of its two remaining opponents.

You could not fault their work rate with the likes of Taisir Al-Jassam and Yahya Al Shehri impressing at times, but Saudi Arabia looked well off the pace.

Russia's Denis Cheryshev became the first substitute to score a goal in the opening match of a World Cup tournament.

I think the moneyline is far too much in favor of a mediocre Russian team, which is largely due to it being the host team.

At the end of the match, Aleksandr Golovin (Russia) was named the man of the match for his indispensable two assists and a superb fifth goal.

Russia's fans will not care about that after enduring a wretched run of seven games without a win but they will be aware that the Asian qualifiers look desperately ill-equipped to trouble Egypt or group favourites Uruguay, who meet tomorrow, and that there is still much to be done for the hosts to secure progress to the knockout stage.

But there was a major blow for the hosts mid-way through the half as star playmaker Dzagoev limped off with a hamstring injury, to be replaced by Cheryshev. A 1-0 win over Japan in their final match is what it took for their qualification to be sealed. Russian Federation are similar to the conditions and have an advantage over their opponents. Stanislav Cherchesov abandoned his three-man defence and opted for a traditional 4-2-3-1 while Saudi Arabia lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation.

"As for our strategy, we must change".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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