The Russia and Saudi Arabia national teams have raised the curtain on the 2018 FIFA World Cup in a game that, quite unexpectedly, produced five goals!
As hosts, Russians qualified automatically for the group stage. They were drawn in group A together with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay. And although the first two looked like winnable ties, the Russian squad were criticized a lot ahead of the tournament for the lacklustre performance in the warm-up friendlies. Winning just five of them, the team sustained seven losses. Stanislav Cherchesov’s side did not look like a unit.
So one could imagine that Thurstday night, June 14 2018, the tournament's hosts entered the pitch of the legendary Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow with a bit of heavy heart. But not the feet, it tuned out. Whatever apprehensions Russian fans may have had were dissipated with an early goal by Yuriy Gadzinskiy just 12 minutes into it.
Although, the Saudi Arabia team slightly dominated possession in the first half, they were not very crafty up front. Igor Akinfeev was hardly called into action. The Russians played a bit more creatively. And the slight edge translated into another goal two minutes to half-time. It was scored by Denis Cherishev, who came on earlier to substitute Alan Dzagoyev after tha latter sustained an unexpected injury. Russia got the upper hand.
The second half started a bit slow. One could think that Russia would sit back and hold the score. However, that impression was so wrong. The Saudi Arabia national team had a chance to buck the trend on 55 minutes. But Taisir Al-Jassim failed to latch on to a pass from his teammate and finish it off. The ball skipped inches by the post.
Halfway through the second half, Artem Dzjuba scores the third goal for Russia. The Saudia Arabia team seem to wilt, and Russians take advantage of it. They go forward time and again, and net two more. One of the goals is scored by the same Denis Cherishev, who has probably secured his place in the starting eleven for the next fixture. The last goal comes in the game’s dying minutes through Alexander Golovin. 5-0, the hosts of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia win a very important morale-boosting victory.