Russia Thrash Saudi Arabia 5-0 In Opening Game

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia are playing in their first World Cup since 2006 Credit Getty Images

Tensions were obviously high for the Saudis. Both sides come into the match after disappointments in the warm-up games and being separated by a mere three points in the FIFA rankings, picking a side between the two can test even the best of football pundits. Cherchesov, known for his prickly demeanor in interviews, responded to questions about what he'd say to Russian fans who are nervous about their team's poor form by saying he's "no psychologist, to go around calming people down". He passed to Roman Zobnin, who swung in a decent cross from the left only for the Saudis to make it look like a precision dart. 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.

With each goal, Putin expressed his condolences to Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman by reaching across the seat occupied by FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

And on 43 minutes the Green Eagles were plucked.

Abdullah Al-Mayouf was forced to palm away two minutes later when Fedor Smolov looked to turn home Mario Fernandes' cutback from the right byline, but the ball looped up into the air after another deflection. Substitute Denis Cheryshev-who replaced the injured Alan Dzagoev after just 23 minutes-then doubled their lead shortly before half-time.

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Russian Federation made it 3-0 in the 71st minute when Golovin chipped in a cross for giant striker Dzyuba to rise and head in from close range. It was his first touch, having come on for Smolov a minute before.

And as the match moved into injury time the impressive Cheryshev smashed home with a crisp strike into the top corner before the superb Aleksandr Golovin curled a free-kick around the wall. His day could not have gone better.

Should Russia qualify from group A, where they face Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay, It will be their first ever qualification to the knock-outs stage. Russian Federation 5-0 Saudi Arabia (Golovin) Though he's on the far left of the box, Golovin decides that the free-kick is nevertheless one for a right-footer, curling around and over the wall with an assassin's precision. Only one World Cup host nation has failed to get past the group stage - South Africa in 2010.

Interestingly, Russia has already eclipsed its total goals scored in their last two World Cup appearances.

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"There are no words to express what I'm feeling right now", said Cheryshev, who was recalled to the Russian Federation squad in March after an absence of more than two years. "I'm happy we won and happy I could help my team", said man-of-the-match Cheryshev. Any moment you relax you can be knocked out so you have to keep working and looking forward.

As for the Saudi camp, there was no trying to sugarcoat the result. He'll struggle to replicate that with a Saudi team he took over after it had qualified for the World Cup. However victory over a very strong Greeks and Algerians, as well as the notorious draw with Ukraine, showed that Saudi Arabia is able to cling to the result with mediocre teams, which is exactly true, and Russian Federation.

And he had a message for Russia's fans.

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