RICHEST AFRICANS

Mike Adenuga

2out of 5

Oba Otudeko

0out of 5

Stephen Saad

0out of 5

Chris Kirubi

2out of 5

Yasseen Mansour

0out of 5

FAMOUS AFRICAN PASTORS

Ramson Mumba

3out of 5

Agyin Asare

4out of 5

Temitope Joshua

3out of 5

Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia: World Cup hosts get off to dream start with Group A win

by 14/06/2018 14:22:00 0 comments 1 Views

Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia: World Cup hosts get off to dream start as Iury Gazinsky, Denis Cheryshev, Artem Dzyuba and Aleksandr Golovin fire them to emphatic opening Group A win

  • World Cup hosts Russia got off to the perfect start when Iury Gazinsky headed them ahead on 12 minutes
  • Russia doubled their lead just before half-time when Denis Cheryshev finished emphatically from close range
  • Substitute Artem Dzyuba made it 3-0 with his touch after coming on via his head with 19 minutes remaining
  • Cheryshev added his second of the day with a breathtaking left-footed strike in injury time
  • And Aleksandr Golovin completed the scoreline just moments later with a well-taken free-kick
  • CLICK HERE to re-live all the action from the Luzhniki Stadium as it happened with Sportsmail's DAN RIPLEY 

By Martin Samuel for the Daily Mail

Published: 12:56 EDT, 14 June 2018 | Updated: 14:14 EDT, 14 June 2018

The acronym for Saudi Arabia is KSA but, to be fair, Russia might have got a better game out of KFC. The K stands for Kingdom, but there was nothing regal in this display, and little that was remotely competent, either. Russia won by a record scoreline for an opening game, overtaking Brazil's 4-0 victory over Mexico in 1950 with almost the last kick of the second half. And it didn't even flatter them.

Russia have been in poor form and were terrified of being embarrassed on the global stage at a home World Cup. They need not have worried. This was as easy as an opener can get for a host nation, a horrid, humiliating mismatch that should please nobody but the locals. The standard line will be that it is what the tournament needed - the home team off to a flyer, creating a feelgood factor - but seriously, is it? Most worryingly, if FIFA president Gianni Infantino gets his way and the competition expands to 48 teams there will be four entrants from Asia that are weaker than Saudi Arabia were on Thursday. How can that be a good thing?

Considering the state of Russian international football right now maybe they could not have coped with a worthier test, but that is no compensation. Saudi Arabia were just woeful, and it is impossible to see how they can reconfigure their back line in time for meetings with Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani next week and, finally, Mohamed Salah. If he is fit and firing, the Liverpool man might exceed Russia's total on his own.

Russia's players had cause for celebration on Thursday as they swept aside Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the 2018 World Cup opener
Russia's players had cause for celebration on Thursday as they swept aside Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the 2018 World Cup opener

Russia's players had cause for celebration on Thursday as they swept aside Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the 2018 World Cup opener

Iury Gazinsky made history when he scored the opening goal of the 2018 World Cup to put Russia ahead against Saudi Arabia
Iury Gazinsky made history when he scored the opening goal of the 2018 World Cup to put Russia ahead against Saudi Arabia

Iury Gazinsky made history when he scored the opening goal of the 2018 World Cup to put Russia ahead against Saudi Arabia

Just before half-time Russia doubled their lead when Denis Cheryshev fired home on 43 minutes
Just before half-time Russia doubled their lead when Denis Cheryshev fired home on 43 minutes

Just before half-time Russia doubled their lead when Denis Cheryshev fired home on 43 minutes

With his first touch of the match, substitute striker Artem Dzyuba headed home to make it 3-0 to the hosts on 71 minutes
With his first touch of the match, substitute striker Artem Dzyuba headed home to make it 3-0 to the hosts on 71 minutes

With his first touch of the match, substitute striker Artem Dzyuba headed home to make it 3-0 to the hosts on 71 minutes

Cheryshev scored his side's fourth of the game with a truly stunning strike worthy of winning any match at this tournament
Cheryshev scored his side's fourth of the game with a truly stunning strike worthy of winning any match at this tournament

Cheryshev scored his side's fourth of the game with a truly stunning strike worthy of winning any match at this tournament

Aleksandr Golovin completed the scoreline in injury time with this well-taken free-kick as Russia routed Saudi Arabia
Aleksandr Golovin completed the scoreline in injury time with this well-taken free-kick as Russia routed Saudi Arabia

Aleksandr Golovin completed the scoreline in injury time with this well-taken free-kick as Russia routed Saudi Arabia

MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS

Russia (4-4-2): Akinfeev 6.5; Fernandes 7, Kutepov 7, Ignashevich 7, Zhirkov 7.5; Samedov 6.5 (Kuziaev 63, 6), Gazinsky 7, Zobnin 7, Golovin 8.5; Dzagoev 6.5 (Cheryshev 23, 8), Smolov 7 (Dzyuba 69).

Goals: Gazinsky, Cheryshev (2), Dzyuba, Golovin.

Booked: Golovin.

Saudi Arabia (4-4-1-1): Al-Muaiouf 5; Alburayk 5, Osama Hawsawi 5, Omar Hawsawi 5, Al-Shahrani 5; Al-Faraj 5, Otayf 5 (Al-Muwallad 63, 4), Al-Jassam 5, Al-Dawsari 5; Al-Shehri 4.5 (Bahbri 74, 4); Al-Sahlawi 5 (Asiri 85).

Booked: Al-Jassam.

Referee: N. Pitana (Argentina) 7.

Star Man: Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

It was an opening fixture that said much about the modern game, too. High up in the Luzhniki Stadium, president Infantino was exactly where he loves to be: in among the money.

On one side, sat Saudi royalty; on the other, his NBF, Russian President Vladimir Putin. As the third goal went in, Infantino gave his berobed companion a little shrug of commiseration. That's football, it seemed to say. And indeed it is. Two oil and energy magnates and FIFA in the middle. That's football to a tee.

So all's well that ends well, for FIFA and Russia, for now. But that's the problem with first games. Nobody yet knows par. Saudi Arabia offered little, were terribly sloppy and overly intricate at the back, and a better team might even have won by a greater margin. Still, it was better than anyone can have imagined. Russia last won a match at a World Cup finals more than 16 years ago - June 5, 2002, against Tunisia in Kobe - and many were fearing that run might continue. Russia have injuries, a creaking defence, good players spurned and youth not trusted by coach Stanislav Cherchesov. Fortunately, even these weaknesses could not trump one inescapable truth: Saudi Arabia are useless.

Four years ago, a series of controversial decisions helped hosts Brazil overcome Croatia. In this World Cup, conspiracy theorists will have to retrace their steps to the day the draw was made to feed their suspicions. Pulling out Saudi Arabia as opening day opponents is the biggest favour FIFA could have done the hosts. Uruguay and Egypt both boast individuals that could cause even the strongest defence problems. Not Saudi Arabia. Russia knew this was a match they could win and played like it. They scored from their first attack of the game, and did not look back.

It is a recent tradition that the scorer of the World Cup's first goal never adds to his tally and that may be the case for Iury Gazinsky, too. He is a defensive midfield player by trade, a toiler with Krasnodar and considered rather fortunate to be in the squad. Most had him making up Russia's numbers, no more. Yet when Yury Zhirkov's corner was cleared on 12 minutes, Aleksandr Golovin recycled the ball with a deep cross and Gazinsky met it with a header, steering the ball past goalkeeper Abdullah Almuaiouf. There was, potentially, an infringement as Gazinsky jumped with his marker but replays suggested a loss of footing, rather than a push. Saudi Arabia were weak where Russia were aggressive; Gazinsky was simply more determined to get to the cross. 

Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov stand side-by-side for their country's national anthem before kick-off
Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov stand side-by-side for their country's national anthem before kick-off

Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov stand side-by-side for their country's national anthem before kick-off

Fedor Smolov (centre) tries to control the ball under pressure from two Saudi Arabia players during the opening exchanges
Fedor Smolov (centre) tries to control the ball under pressure from two Saudi Arabia players during the opening exchanges

Fedor Smolov (centre) tries to control the ball under pressure from two Saudi Arabia players during the opening exchanges

Alan Dzagoev (left) fends off a challenge from Omar Hawsawi as the hosts go in search of the opening goal
Alan Dzagoev (left) fends off a challenge from Omar Hawsawi as the hosts go in search of the opening goal

Alan Dzagoev (left) fends off a challenge from Omar Hawsawi as the hosts go in search of the opening goal

Russia  made a breakthrough when Gazinsky found himself unmarked at the back post to head home Golovin's cross
Russia  made a breakthrough when Gazinsky found himself unmarked at the back post to head home Golovin's cross

Russia made a breakthrough when Gazinsky found himself unmarked at the back post to head home Golovin's cross

Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Abdullah Almuaiouf could do nothing to prevent the header - despite being at full stretch
Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Abdullah Almuaiouf could do nothing to prevent the header - despite being at full stretch

Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Abdullah Almuaiouf could do nothing to prevent the header - despite being at full stretch

Saudi Arabia's No 1 could do nothing but watch on as Gazinsky's header bounced into towards the bottom corner
Saudi Arabia's No 1 could do nothing but watch on as Gazinsky's header bounced into towards the bottom corner

Saudi Arabia's No 1 could do nothing but watch on as Gazinsky's header bounced into towards the bottom corner

Gazinsky wheels away in celebration in what was a joyous occasion for the 28-year-old and his country
Gazinsky wheels away in celebration in what was a joyous occasion for the 28-year-old and his country

Gazinsky wheels away in celebration in what was a joyous occasion for the 28-year-old and his country

Russia are the lowest-ranked side in the tournament but you wouldn't have known it by their impressive start in Moscow
Russia are the lowest-ranked side in the tournament but you wouldn't have known it by their impressive start in Moscow

Russia are the lowest-ranked side in the tournament but you wouldn't have known it by their impressive start in Moscow

However, Russia's attempts build on their lead took a major blow when Dzagoev pulled up with a left hamstring injury
However, Russia's attempts build on their lead took a major blow when Dzagoev pulled up with a left hamstring injury

However, Russia's attempts build on their lead took a major blow when Dzagoev pulled up with a left hamstring injury

Dzagoev was consoled by his team-mate Aleksander Samedov as he trudged off with his tournament hopes now in tatters
Dzagoev was consoled by his team-mate Aleksander Samedov as he trudged off with his tournament hopes now in tatters

Dzagoev was consoled by his team-mate Aleksander Samedov as he trudged off with his tournament hopes now in tatters

Cheryshev was seen roaring with delight after make it 2-0 to the European outfit at the Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday
Cheryshev was seen roaring with delight after make it 2-0 to the European outfit at the Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday

Cheryshev was seen roaring with delight after make it 2-0 to the European outfit at the Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday

After a quick counter-attack, the midfielder fooled three Saudi Arabia players when it seemed the moment had gone
After a quick counter-attack, the midfielder fooled three Saudi Arabia players when it seemed the moment had gone

After a quick counter-attack, the midfielder fooled three Saudi Arabia players when it seemed the moment had gone

However, it hadn't as he smartly cut inside all of them before blasting this left-footed strike into the top corner
However, it hadn't as he smartly cut inside all of them before blasting this left-footed strike into the top corner

However, it hadn't as he smartly cut inside all of them before blasting this left-footed strike into the top corner

The goal clearly meant a lot to the 27-year-old as he pointed to the heavens after scoring his first goal of this tournament
The goal clearly meant a lot to the 27-year-old as he pointed to the heavens after scoring his first goal of this tournament

The goal clearly meant a lot to the 27-year-old as he pointed to the heavens after scoring his first goal of this tournament

Russia's No 6 was promptly mobbed by his team-mates after doubling their advantage just before half-time
Russia's No 6 was promptly mobbed by his team-mates after doubling their advantage just before half-time

Russia's No 6 was promptly mobbed by his team-mates after doubling their advantage just before half-time

The Villarreal winger ran over to celebrate with a corner of the home fans inside the Luzhniki Stadium
The Villarreal winger ran over to celebrate with a corner of the home fans inside the Luzhniki Stadium

The Villarreal winger ran over to celebrate with a corner of the home fans inside the Luzhniki Stadium

The second was another defensive catastrophe. Russia broke, given far too much space again, and the ball eventually found its way to the feet of substitute, Denis Cheryshev. Once of Real Madrid, now with Villarreal, he is one of the more skilled Russian forwards, but was given considerable help. Saudi Arabia's centre-halves Omar Hawsawi and Osama Hawsawi share a name but little else, including a sense of timing. With one dinked chip, Cheryshev left them both scooting past the ball and slipping on their backsides. Faced with a clear shot at goal he found the roof of the net. Just two minutes before half-time and Saudi Arabia were done.

So, too, sadly is the World Cup for one of Russia's better players, Alan Dzagoev. He looked to have pulled a hamstring chasing in support of a break and was swiftly withdrawn for Cheryshev. It proved fortuitous on the day but, long term, is deeply unhelpful. Dzagoev is undoubtedly one of Russia's best players and if the injury is as bad as it first looked will play no further part in the tournament. They certainly don't have too many like him to spare.

Not that great skill was needed to close out this one. Saudi Arabia even fell for the oldest trick in football's book – the big lump upfront, slung on late to hold the ball up and get on one put into the mixer, which he duly did, roughly a minute after arriving. Artem Dzyuba is the lump in question; a colourful sort, well known in these parts for mocking Unai Emery when he was manager of Spartak Moscow, and later falling out with Russian coach Cherchesov. Emery ended up at Arsenal, Dzyuba on loan at Arsenal Tula, so it's fairly obvious who got the last laugh there.

Halfway through the second half, Cherchesov made a change up front as Dzyuba replaced Smolov
Halfway through the second half, Cherchesov made a change up front as Dzyuba replaced Smolov

Halfway through the second half, Cherchesov made a change up front as Dzyuba replaced Smolov

The 29-year-old watches on as his header back across goal flies into the bottom far corner of Almuaiouf's net
The 29-year-old watches on as his header back across goal flies into the bottom far corner of Almuaiouf's net

The 29-year-old watches on as his header back across goal flies into the bottom far corner of Almuaiouf's net

The towering striker punches the air with delight after extending his side's lead in the Russia capital
The towering striker punches the air with delight after extending his side's lead in the Russia capital

The towering striker punches the air with delight after extending his side's lead in the Russia capital

His emotion was matched by Cherchesov who saw his substitution pay off in the most brilliant of fashions
His emotion was matched by Cherchesov who saw his substitution pay off in the most brilliant of fashions

His emotion was matched by Cherchesov who saw his substitution pay off in the most brilliant of fashions

Dzyuba and Cherchesov, who have had their differences in the past, embrace in celebration of the former's goal
Dzyuba and Cherchesov, who have had their differences in the past, embrace in celebration of the former's goal

Dzyuba and Cherchesov, who have had their differences in the past, embrace in celebration of the former's goal

Saudi Arabia manager Juan Antonio Pizzi cut a crestfallen figure as he could only watch on helplessly at his side's display
Saudi Arabia manager Juan Antonio Pizzi cut a crestfallen figure as he could only watch on helplessly at his side's display

Saudi Arabia manager Juan Antonio Pizzi cut a crestfallen figure as he could only watch on helplessly at his side's display

Still, he was a popular boy on Thursday, getting the goal that ended any fanciful thoughts of a Saudi revival against all odds and evidence. There was a neat exchange of passing between Mario Fernandes - beautiful Russian name, as the Pub Landlord might say - Roman Zobnin and most crucially Golovin who whipped the ball in for Dzyuba to meet with a neat header into the corner.

In injury time, came the two goals that rewrote the record books. Cheryshev got his second of the night, highlighting the gulf in class. He strolled into the area, unguarded, no-one in his path, before clipping a lovely shot into the far corner. With almost the last kick of the match, Golovin - Russia's best player on the night - went one better than Brazil 68 summers ago. This was a curling free-kick out of the reach of goalkeeper Almuaiouf, who by then looked like he regretted even putting in for his Russian visa.

It ended in wild celebrations, big smiles and the tournament's first lap of honour. Salah, and Egypt, may provide a truer test of this aging Russian defence in St Petersburg on Tuesday but, until then, the hosts can imagine they are quite the team.

After Cheryshev's stunner, Golovin got in on the act in injury time with this free-kick
After Cheryshev's stunner, Golovin got in on the act in injury time with this free-kick

After Cheryshev's stunner, Golovin got in on the act in injury time with this free-kick

The 22-year-old watches on as his effort curls up and over the wall before hitting the back of the net
The 22-year-old watches on as his effort curls up and over the wall before hitting the back of the net

The 22-year-old watches on as his effort curls up and over the wall before hitting the back of the net

Russia's No 17 was promptly mobbed by his team-mates after completing their emphatic victory
Russia's No 17 was promptly mobbed by his team-mates after completing their emphatic victory

Russia's No 17 was promptly mobbed by his team-mates after completing their emphatic victory


Advertisement
No tags for this article
View More Posts

Movies

News from all over the world

THE DETECTIVE

4.2 out of 5 Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Read More

Pride Of A Housegirl

4.2 out of 5 Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Read More

Wet Love

4.2 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Read More

The Powerful Virgin

4.2 out of 5 Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Read More

BEAUTIFUL BRIDE

4.2 out of 5 Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Read More

BARREN MARRIAGE

4.2 out of 5 Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Read More