Russia annihilate Saudi Arabia to start their World Cup in style

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    Russia have wasted no time in making a statement at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, putting five goals past a scoreless Saudi Arabia in the opening match at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

    The hosts were on top of the match from the opening whistle, and while the Saudis were in the contest at different points, they never looked all that likely to score a goal, with their attack constantly shut down by the Russian defence.

    » See how the match unfolded with our Russia vs Saudi Arabia live blog and highlights

    While the possession stat will show Saudi Arabia held over 60 per cent of the ball across the match, it was all at the wrong end of the field, with Russia constantly pushing forward.

    Russia wasted no time in getting the game off to a good start, Yury Gazinskii the first man to score in just the 12th minute after they managed to put plenty of pressure on, getting on the end of a cross sweeping in at the far post from Alexsandr Golovin, who was one of their best players.

    The second goal came just minutes before halftime. Russia were strong on the wings during the first half and it showed again at the business end of the field, with some space created before a pass found the feet of substitute Denis Cheryshev who sent the ball into the back of the net.

    Cheryshev came on in the first half due to a hamstring injury for Alan Dzagoev, who pulled up lame with no one near him. It’s feared his tournament could be over.

    Russia’s dominance continued in the second half as they found plenty of space out wide to keep the visitors on the back foot. Abdullah Almuaiouf was powerless in front of goals, and while Saudi Arabia collected themselves in defence for the first 20 minutes of the second half, it was substitute Artem Dzyuba putting the game away with a powerful header in the 71st minute.

    It wasn’t until injury time when Russia put the icing on the cake, with a pair of superb goals to Cheryshev, who got his second with a perfect outside-of-the-foot strike, and Golovin, who deserved a goal more than just about anyone else on the field and got it with a well-placed free-kick.

    With this win, the hosts’ hopes of qualifying for the Round of 16 are well and truly alive, with their match against Egypt likely to decide the second spot in Group A.

    Final score

    Russia 5
    Saudi Arabia 0

    Scott Pryde
    Scott Pryde

    One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 2000 articles covering everything from rugby league to basketball, from tennis to cricket. You can follow him on Twitter @sk_pryde.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • Roar Rookie

      June 15th 2018 @ 6:32am
      Waz said | June 15th 2018 @ 6:32am | ! Report

      Well, who saw that performance coming?

      • June 15th 2018 @ 6:45am
        Cantab said | June 15th 2018 @ 6:45am | ! Report

        The bookies picked this pretty much spot on. Only France-Australia is priced at shorter odds in the opening round of 16 games.

        Good start for the tournament, with the home team doing well.

      • June 15th 2018 @ 8:04am
        MQ said | June 15th 2018 @ 8:04am | ! Report

        most of us, I would have thought, perhaps not a 5-nil win (two goals came around the 90th min), but I don’t think too many would have believed that the Saudis would worry the Russians too much

        The Saudis are a weak footballing nation, and at this level, they get shown up time after time.

        • June 15th 2018 @ 9:21am
          Fadida said | June 15th 2018 @ 9:21am | ! Report

          It shows what a good job BVM did to get them above us, and conversely what a poor job Ange did.

          They were very very poor.

          It was noticeable how often Russia hit them with a quick transition, something our play under Ange rarely featured. Win the ball and play it into space for the quick wide men, something BVM is looking to emulate.

          • June 15th 2018 @ 11:42am
            MQ said | June 15th 2018 @ 11:42am | ! Report

            Agree with that.

            By the way, take another look at that free kick (the 5th goal), an excellent free in anyone’s language, but check out how Infantino looks at Putin immediately after the goal.

            • June 15th 2018 @ 1:27pm
              Cantab said | June 15th 2018 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

              I genuinely think Australia is a better team than the Saudi’s. Yes…even though they finished higher in the qualification.

              • June 15th 2018 @ 1:34pm
                MQ said | June 15th 2018 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

                No doubt, or a better way to express it might be that the socceroos are better equipped for the rigours of the WC than the Saudis (from a number of perspectives)

    • June 15th 2018 @ 7:09am
      AGO74 said | June 15th 2018 @ 7:09am | ! Report

      Saudi Arabia showing their outstanding away form yet again when leaving the desert environment.

      Congrats to the Russian team and their sophisticated “sports science” unit 😉

      • Roar Rookie

        June 15th 2018 @ 9:08am
        The Phantom Commissioner said | June 15th 2018 @ 9:08am | ! Report

        How can we really expect the Saudis to perform when the most basic needs such as gold plated toilets are not provided.

    • June 15th 2018 @ 9:12am
      BrainsTrust said | June 15th 2018 @ 9:12am | ! Report

      I thought this was the biggest certainty in the world cup and advised a friend on betting who made a lot of money as I don;t bet out of principle.
      Saudi Arabia they were the only team to beat Iraq in the final group stages while Iraq conveniently denied others points. Saudi Arabia are a good team in 40 degree heat they would have done better in Brazil..

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