Belfast Telegraph

Russia run riot over Saudi Arabia in World Cup opener

Russia opened the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a crushing win over Saudi Arabia, with Denis Cheryshev's double giving them a 5-0 win at the Luzhniki Stadium.

The host nation swept past their hapless opponents, with Yuriy Gazinsky, Artem Dzyuba and Aleksandr Golovin also finding the back of the net.

Russia made an ideal start when they took a 12th-minute lead through Gazinsky.

There was some controversy, however, as the midfielder seemed to push Taisir Al-Jassam to the ground before steering a header home from Golovin's left-wing cross.

Referee Pitana Nestor opted not to consult the video assistant referee system - in place for the first time at a World Cup - as the goal stood.

Russia doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time, courtesy of substitute Cheryshev.

The Villarreal midfielder, on for the injured Alan Dzagoev after 24 minutes, feigned to shoot on the left side of the area and took out two last-ditch tackles from Saudi Arabia defenders in the process.

Cheryshev then did pull the trigger, firing high beyond Saudi goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Muaiouf, to the delight of the home support.

There was more for the home crowd to cheer on 71 minutes when substitute Dzyuba added a third goal within 60 seconds of his introduction.

The 6ft 5in Zenit St Petersburg striker nodded Golovin's right-wing cross neatly into the net moments after being brought on in place of Fedor Smolov.

Cheryshev added a fourth goal in stoppage time with a superb strike.

He latched onto the ball on the edge of the box and curled an exquisite shot around the helpless Al-Muaiouf with the outside of his left foot.

Golovin then sealed the rout by curling a fine free-kick around the wall to make it 5-0 in the dying seconds.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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