The 2018 World Cup opened in spectacular fashion as Russia defied their recent poor form to score five past Saudi Arabia and record the biggest win by the host nation in the opening game of a World Cup since 1934.
Stanislav Cherchesov’s team had not won in their past seven matches and had been criticised from all sides, including a series of barbed comments from Russian president Vladimir Putin.
But in front of a largely partisan crowd of 78,011 at the Luzhniki Stadium they never looked in danger against a naïve Green Falcons’ side that seemed only too willing to gift possession to their opponents.
A completely unmarked Yuri Gazinsky headed his first goal for Russia before substitute Denis Cheryshev evaded several weak challenges and smashed home at the near post close to half-time.
Highlights: Iury Gazinsky header is first goal of Russia 2018; Denis Cheryshev and Artem Dzyuba score either side of half-time; Superb late strikes from Cheryshev and Golovin round off Russian rout!