Substitute Denis Cheryshev scored twice as hosts Russia got their World Cup campaign off to a brilliant start with a 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia in the opening match at a soldout Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow.
It’s the biggest opening match win in World Cup history as the Russians look to come out of Group A that has Egypt and Uruguay locking horns tomorrow.
Yuri Gazinski put the hosts ahead in the 17th minute with a downward header from Aleksandr Golovin’s cross to spark the crowd to life, much to the delight of Russian president Vladimir Putin who was sat in the state box alongside Fifa president Gianni Infantino and Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
Cheryshev came on for playmaker Alan Dzagoev after he pulled his hamstring, and the substitution paid off for the Stanislav Cherchesov’s men as the Villarreal midfielder made 2-0 by rounding off a brilliant counter-attack two minutes before half-time.
Artem Dzyuba came on for Fedor Smolov and made an instant impact by scoring Russia’s third with a well-taken header from Golovin’s cross with 20 minutes left.
The hosts weren’t done yet as they scored twice in stoppage time – first from Cheryshev with an early contender for the goal of the tournament, before Golovin completed a superb individual display by curling in a free-kick with the last kick of the ball.
Russia next take on Egypt, while Juan Antonio Pizzi’s Saudi will have to pick themselves up for their clash with Uruguay.