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Russia vs Saudi Arabia
2018 FIFA World Cup, Match 1, June 14 - fulltime
|Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia|
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Russia have opened the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a commanding victory, putting five goals past their Group A opponents Saudi Arabia.
The victory, with Russia maintaining a clean sheet and dominating the match from start to finish, saw two first-half goals and then three in the second, with the final two coming during injury time as the score blew out.
Russia wasted very little time in getting the match off to a strong start with Yury Gazinskii scoring the opener just 12 minutes in. A goal to substitute Denis Cheryshev before halftime seemed to sink Saudi Arabia, who were never in the contest after halftime, despite winning the possession count.
The Russians also keep their dream of qualification alive, with an upcoming game against Egypt likely to decide their fate.
Saudi Arabia 0
The 2018 World Cup is finally upon us. After years of qualification and months of build-up, the time for talking stops as hosts Russia take on Saudi Arabia in an important Group A contest. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 1am (AEST).
This is the biggest moment in the history of Russian football as they get a chance to host the biggest sporting event in the world, but it comes at a historically very poor time.
They are ranked 70th in the world heading into the showpiece event, which leaves them at their lowest ever ranking.
The Russians will have the home crowd behind them though and if they are going to have any chance at advancing out of Group A – which is the easiest at the Cup – they must win here.
While Uruguay are going to top the group with ease, Egypt, Russia and Saudi Arabia will all scramble for second place.
Russia brings sub-standard form into the World Cup opener, with a draw to Turkey in their last match and a loss against Austria in their only other friendly played during the last international window.
Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev leads the square at the back, while veterans Sergei Ignashevich and Igor Smolnikov will lead the squad in defence.
Russia’s first task will be to stop Saudi Arabia from scoring. Given their strength at the back, it seems they may be able to do that and poach a goal through Fyodor Smolov or Artem Dzyuba.
The Saudis managed to qualify directly to the World Cup, but lost their manager shortly afterwards and form recently doesn’t fill anyone with hope they are going to do anything good.
They have lost to Italy, Peru and Germany in the build-up to the World Cup, with all three of those being poor performances, but they did beat Greece and Algeria beforehand, so just maybe, all hope isn’t lost.
Being placed in Group A leaves them with a chance of doing something reasonable, but unless gun forward Mohammad Al-Sahlawi fires, they are going to struggle.
Even then, he has to get quality ball up front. The midfield for the Arabic nation is going to struggle to find space in the Russian defence, and it’s hard to see them scoring a goal in this game.
The Russians are at home and will have the backing of a huge crowd. This is their moment, and against a team like Saudi Arabia, they are unlikely to muck it up.
Russia 1 – Saudi Arabia 0.
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