Jun 14, 2018 at 4pm UK at ​Luzhniki Stadium
Attendance: 78,011
Russia
5-0
Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia
Gazinskiy (12'), Cheryshev (43', 90'), Dzyuba (71'), Golovin (90')
Golovin (88')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Al Jassim (93')

Live Commentary: Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia - as it happened

Live Commentary: Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia - as it happened
© Reuters
Relive Russia's memorable 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia as the host nation get their 2018 World Cup campaign off to a dream start.

Hosts Russia got the 2018 World Cup off to a dream start this afternoon with a 5-0 drubbing of Group A rivals Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

It took only 12 minutes for Russia to begin making a mockery of their ranking as the worst team in the competition when Yury Gazinskiy opened the scoring, and substitute Denis Cheryshev added a skilful second shortly before half time.

Indeed, it was the subs who had the biggest say on the match as Artem Dzyuba increased Russia's lead 89 seconds after coming on, before a second for Cheryshev and an Aleksandr Golovin free kick in stoppage time capped off a memorable opening game.

Find out how all of the action unfolded courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates below.


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3pmGoooooood afternoon! The excitement is at fever pitch and the wait is almost over!

Precisely 1432 days have passed since Mario Gotze broke Argentinian hearts to hand Germany the World Cup trophy in Brazil, and now we are nearly ready to do it all over again as the biggest sporting spectacle in the world returns!

It may not be the most glamorous opening fixture, but there is something perversely attractive about having the competition's two lowest-ranked teams going head to head in the curtain-raiser as hosts Russia take on Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

This World Cup has already thrown up some incredible drama with Spain sacking their manager on the eve of the tournament, and hopefully there will be plenty more to come over the next month.

So forget about Robbie Williams - sit back, relax and let me entertain you (see what I did there?) for the next few hours as the 21st edition of the World Cup gets underway!


3.02pmRUSSIA STARTING XI: Akinfeev; Mario Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov; Gazinskiy, Zobnin, Dzagoev, Samedov, Golovin; Smolov

3.04pmSAUDI ARABIA STARTING XI: Al-Maiouf; Alburayk, Os.Hawsawi, Om. Hawsawi, Al-Shahrani; Otayf, Al-Dawsari, Al-Faraj, Al-Jassam; Al-Shehri, Al-Sahlawi

3.06pmOkay, so it is not exactly the most star-studded World Cup opener we have ever seen, but what can we make of those two teams?

Well, the biggest question mark surrounding the Russian selection was regarding their defensive issues; manager Stanislav Cherchesov has chopped and changed his backline on numerous occasions during the buildup to this tournament, and has not been helped by injuries to Dzhikiya and Vasin either.

Russia experimented with a back three in their final warm-up game, but it looks as though they will play with four at the back this afternoon.


3.08pmOne of those four is 38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich, who was brought out of retirement to feature at this World Cup due to the number of defensive problems Russia had.

Ignashevich is the most capped player in Russia's history with 122 international appearances to his name, and today he will become the oldest player to represent the country at a World Cup, surpassing the legendary Lev Yashin's record.


3.10pmThere is also plenty of experience in the shape of goalkeeper and captain Igor Akinfeev, who will win his 107th cap for Russia this afternoon and remains the undisputed number one in goal for the hosts.

Yuri Zhirkov - a former Chelsea player - is another veteran of Russia's run to the European Championship semi-finals 10 years ago, although it looks as though he will be deployed at left-back this afternoon, having spent most of his time further forward during the buildup to the tournament.


3.12pmRussia's main dangerman at this summer's World Cup is expected to be Alan Dzagoev of CSKA Moscow, with the playmaker having the ability to unlock defences and weigh in with goals himself - something which may be particularly useful today.

Further forward Fyodor Smolov is the main goal threat and the top scorer in the Russian squad, and there will be more pressure on the shoulders of both him and Artem Dzyuba - who misses out on a start today - following an injury to Alexander Kokorin.

Russia's Alan Dzagoev in action during an international friendly in November 2017© Reuters


3.14pmAs for Saudi Arabia, their main threat is expected to come from Mohammad Al-Sahlawi, who is given the nod up front despite some speculation that he might miss out on a starting role.

No player scored more goals than Al-Sahlawi during qualification - and that goes for any section including South America and Europe - with the striker netting 16 times, although eight of those did come in two matches against Timor-Leste.


3.16pmIndeed, Al-Sahlawi's qualifying total makes up more than half of his overall tally of international goals, having netted 28 times for his country overall - the most in the squad.

It was thought that Fahad Al-Muwallad might challenge him for a place up front - and the 23-year-old is clearly highly regarded by the Saudis having already racked up 45 caps despite his tender years - but it is no great surprise to see Al-Sahlawi get the nod.


3.18pmElsewhere, Omar and Osama Hawsawi control the Saudi Arabian defence, with the latter arguably set to be his country's most important player at this World Cup.

The veteran has 135 caps for his country and captains the team, and considering that Saudi Arabia are expected to spend the vast majority of their three group games on the back foot, that duo is likely to be key.

Saudi Arabia's Osama Hawsawi talks to referee Sebastian Coltescu during his side's international friendly with Portugal in November 2017© Reuters


3.20pmThere is also plenty of experience in midfield for Saudi Arabia today, with Taisir Al-Jassim boasting 132 caps for his country, meaning that the visitors today can even dwarf Russia in terms of caps won.

Al-Jassim netted in Saudi Arabia's final warm-up game - against Germany, no less - so could be one to watch in terms of goals from midfield today.


3.22pmOnto the teams themselves and their hopes at this summer's World Cup - and we have to start with the host nation. There has already been plenty of controversy surrounding Russia hosting the tournament, from allegations of bribery in the initial awarding of it to concerns over fan safety, but they will hope that the focus remains on the field from now on.

Russia's hopes on that front do not look too rosy, though. They are the lowest-ranked team in the competition and their first point of call is to avoid becoming the least successful host nation of all time.


3.24pmOnly one host nation has ever failed to reach the second round of a World Cup, with South Africa falling in the group stages of the 2010 tournament, but Russia could very well add their name to that list this summer.

Today's opener has been kind to them - and it could be argued that the group draw overall has been kind, with none of the world's top 10 teams making it into Group A, but Egypt and Uruguay, whom Russia will face in their next two matches, both boast genuine world-class players.


3.26pmRussia's place as 'officially' the worst team at the tournament can be taken with a pinch of salt as they have barely played any competitive football since Euro 2016, which has a big impact on the FIFA rankings.

However, while it may be harsh to have them placed 70th - below the likes of Burkina Faso, Mali and the Cape Verde Islands - this is still far from a vintage batch of Russian players and the standard of the national team has been on a steady decline since reaching the semi-finals at Euro 2008.


3.28pmThe hosts come into this tournament without a win since October, a run of seven games which includes three draws and four defeats - including three losses in their most recent four outings.

In Russia's defence, they have played some difficult opposition in that time - including Argentina, Spain, Brazil and France in succession, and even managing a draw against Spain - but their two warm-up games immediately prior to this summer's tournament have seen them lose to Austria and draw with Turkey, neither of whom qualified.


3.30pmEven the mini-World Cup trial run did not go well for Russia as they were knocked out in the group stages of last summer's Confederations Cup, winning their opening game against New Zealand but then losing to Portugal and Mexico to crash out on home soil.

Worryingly, that opening win against New Zealand - a 2-0 triumph - is their most recent clean sheet on the international stage, going 11 games since then without keeping the opposition at bay.


3.32pmRecent history is not on Russia's side, then, and nor is their previous World Cup record - at least since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Russia have been eliminated in the group stages of all three World Cups under their own flag, and come into this match winless in their last five World Cup outings having been eliminated from Brazil 2014 without winning a game. Indeed, their only two World Cup wins as an independent nation have both come against African opposition - against Cameroon in 1994 and Tunisia in 2002.

Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov on May 30, 2018© Reuters


3.34pmIn comparison, the Soviet Union only failed to make it through the group stages once and even finished fourth in 1966.

Russia will be hoping that the home crowd can help them restore some of those football glory days, and there is precedent for the suggestion. Over the past 20 years, four of the six host nations have reached at least the semi-finals, including South Korea's memorable run against all the odds in 2002.


3.36pmNo host nation has ever lost the opening match of a World Cup too, and Russia will be glad that they start their campaign against Saudi Arabia - the second-lowest ranked team in the competition and certainly their easiest Group A opponent on paper.

Saudi will also be up against it to make it into the knockout rounds of this tournament, and even so much as a point might be considered a decent return against the host nation and two teams boasting some of the best players in the world.


3.38pmJust as Russia will be viewing this match as a kind start, though, Saudi Arabia will also be hoping it is an opportunity to get their campaign off to a positive start - and who knows where they could go from there?

The Saudis were the joint-highest scorers in their qualifying section - led by Al-Sahlawi - and beat Australia to an automatic qualifying position, so they are very much here on merit and may be able to shock a few people this summer.


3.40pmSaudi Arabia's warm-up results do not look too encouraging on first glance - losing three matches in a row to come into the tournament on their worst run of form since January 2015 - but those games have come against Italy, Peru and world champions Germany.

A 3-0 defeat to Peru will have been a concern, but narrow 2-1 defeats at the hands of Italy and Germany - both of whom have lifted this trophy four times - will have offered some encouragement despite also ending in a loss.


3.42pmIt has been a busy World Cup year for Saudi Arabia, who will today take part in their 10th match of 2018 this afternoon, although they have won just three of those - and none of those wins have come against World Cup opposition.

Indeed, their last win over a team that will also be participating in this summer's competition was the once which clinched their place in Russia - a 1-0 victory over the already-qualified Japan - since when they have lost four successive such games, conceding 12 goals and scoring just once in the process.


3.44pmIn fairness to Saudi Arabia, Russia are not of the calibre of some of those teams - Portugal, Belgium, Peru and Germany - but the Saudis have also been beaten by Oman, Iraq and Bulgaria since booking their place at the World Cup so it has by no means been all glamour games for them.

Saudi Arabia did actually begin their warm-up campaign with back-to-back wins over Algeria and Greece, but those three defeats on the bounce since have dampened the enthusiasm.


3.46pmSaudi Arabia's best hope at this World Cup may lie with manager Juan Antonio Pizzi, whose own journey to the tournament is a story in itself.

Pizzi initially missed out on the World Cup when his Chile side slipped from third to sixth on the final day of South American qualifying, leading him to step down. Meanwhile, Bert van Marwijk - who is now in charge of Australia - led Suadi Arabia to their first World Cup since 2006 but then stepped down after failing to agree a new contract.

Van Marwijk was replaced by Edgardo Bauza, who lasted just five matches, before Pizzi was drafted in in November, as the third Saudi coach in as many months.

Saudi Arabia manager Juan Antonio Pizzi on May 28, 2018© Reuters


3.48pmPizzi does have prior experience of leading teams to success against the odds, though. He won the Copa America with Chile in 2016 and then led them to the Confederations Cup final on Russian soil just last year, so he may fancy his chances of getting more out of this Saudi team.

It is a nation that has failed to win any of their last 10 World Cup matches, though, losing eight since a memorable win over Belgium in 1994. The nadir came in 2002, when they finished bottom of their group with no goals and no points, having also lost 8-0 to Germany along the way.


3.50pmPREDICTION! Right, we're 10 minutes away from kickoff in Moscow, which means that it is time for a prediction!

These opening matches are so often cautious affairs, and the fact that it involves the two lowest-ranked teams in the competition is unlikely to help that. Russia's home advantage should give them the slight edge they need to make a winning start, though.

SPORTS MOLE SAYS: Russia 1-0 Saudi Arabia


3.52pmThese two sides have only ever met on one previous occasion, with that coming in an international friendly in October 1993.

Saudi Arabia ran out 4-2 winners on that occasion, coming from behind in Al Khobar and giving a taste of what was to come en route to the last 16 of the World Cup the following year, but this will be their first trip to Russia.


3.54pmWe're running out of time before the World Cup officially gets underway now - Robbie Williams has done his thing, the opening ceremony is winding down and everyone is now looking forward to kickoff.

If you need to brush up further on your knowledge of the host nation, though, then we have an in-depth team preview for them right here.


3.56pmWe are, of course, neutrals at Sports Mole, so we have an in-depth preview for Saudi Arabia too!

Vladimir Putin has given his welcome, as has FIFA president Gianni Infantino, and we're now all set for the national anthems!


3.58pmThe Russian anthem is belted out by the packed crowd at the Luzhniki Stadium, and now all that is left is for the football! A reminder of the team news before we get started...

RUSSIA STARTING XI: Akinfeev; Mario Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov; Gazinskiy, Zobnin, Dzagoev, Samedov, Golovin; Smolov

SAUDI ARABIA STARTING XI: Al-Maiouf; Alburayk, Os.Hawsawi, Om. Hawsawi, Al-Shahrani; Otayf, Al-Dawsari, Al-Faraj, Al-Jassam; Al-Shehri, Al-Sahlawi


1 minKICKOFF! Here. We. Go.

Saudi Arabia get the 2018 World Cup underway!


3 minRussia win an early corner, and the anticipation builds inside the stadium. It is easily dealt with by Saudi Arabia, but Russia's fans are baying for a good start here.

5 minRussia are certainly looking to oblige - they are quick in the tackle and full of energy in these opening exchanges. It is a little scrappy, but that is to be expected.

7 minDzagoev gets the first chance to stretch his legs, and it almost results in a good chance for the hosts. Smolov slides a clever ball through to Fernandes, who keeps it in and pulls it back towards Samedov. Al-Hawsawi is alert and makes a crucial challenge to deny the Russian midfielder, though.

9 minAnother promising attack from the hosts as first Golovin and then Zhirkov get the ball inside the area, but the Saudi's scrambling defence once again does just enough to repel the danger.

11 minCHANCE! This is the closest we have come to a chance so far as Dzagoev collects the ball inside the area, but his first touch isn't perfect and that allows the defence to get a foot in. Only a corner for the hosts, but their pressure is growing.

12 minGOAL! Russia 1-0 Saudi Arabia (Yury Gazinskiy)

12 minMoscow goes wild as Russia score the opening goal of the 2018 World Cup!

It has taken just 12 minutes, and it is an unlikely scorer too as Gazinskiy scores his first international goal - and what a time to get it! Golovin swings a lovely cross into the box and Gazinskiy rises highest in the area to guide a well-cushioned header into the far corner!

Yury Gazinsky scores the opener during the World Cup game between Russia and Saudi Arabia on June 14, 2018© Reuters


14 minThere was just a question mark of that goal regarding a possible foul on a Saudi defender, but VAR was not called upon and the replay seems to prove it right.

15 minCHANCE! Another chance for Russia to double their lead, but Dzegoev and Smolov get in each other's way! A ball through down the right finds Samedov offside, although the flag is not raised and he plays a low ball into the box. Dzagoev gets to the ball and goes for goal, but his effort takes a deflection off Al Burayk and Smolov before being clawed away by Al Maiouf.

17 minI expected a cagey match here, but that hasn't been the case so far. Russia have looked a lot better than they have in their warm-up games and there are more goals for them in this one if they carry on like this.

19 minHere it is for your viewing pleasure - the opening goal of the World Cup, and a moment Gazinskiy will never forget...



21 minCLOSE! Saudi Arabia have been on the back foot for the vast majority of this match so far, but suddenly they break forward and come close to an equaliser. Al-Shahrani leads the counter down the left before swinging a cross into the box towards Al-Sahlawi. Kutepov holds off the forward and gets his head to the ball, but places it just wide of his own goal.

23 minOh this is very worrying for Russia. The hosts have a chance to break themselves and it is a three-on-two momentarily, but Dzagoev then goes down clutching his hamstring with no player near him. That is surely his game over, and maybe the tournament too for Russia's star player.

24 minRUSSIA SUB: There is the change - Denis Cheryshev replaces Dzagoev, who is understandably distraught at seeing his World Cup potentially ended after just a quarter of the first game.

26 minHow can Russia react to that setback? They were controlling this match and looked very capable of scoring more prior to Dzagoev's departure, but the stoppage may have just thrown them off their stride a little.

28 minAl-Dawsari tries his luck as the ball comes to him and he goes for goal first time, but his effort is a long, long way off target.

30 minNot quite as spectacular a goal as Lahm's this one, but still not bad...



32 minRussia's level of control over this match has certainly waned since Dzagoev's departure. Saudi Arabia are still looking a little shaky at times, but they were being cut open at will before and that is not the case now.

34 minSmolov tries a Ronaldinho-esque trick to break into the box but doesn't quite pull it off - in fact he ends up giving a free kick away and wasting a good attacking platform.

35 minRussia make a really quick break forward and find themselves with a two-on-two situation, and it looks momentarily as though Golovin has beaten Osama Hawsawi. The Saudi defender steps in and Golovin goes down inside the box, but the referee is right on the scene and immediately waves the claims away.

37 minThat was a risky challenge from Hawsawi - I must admit that I thought it was a penalty in real time, but the replay shows that he just got a toe to the ball. Good decision from the referee!

39 minSaudi Arabia have enjoyed 58% of the possession in this match so far, despite being behind. They have grown in the game as it has gone on and are now very much in the contest.

41 minRussia have seen their momentum hit by that injury to Dzagoev, but it looks like they will need to cope without him going forward in this tournament too.

43 minGOAL! Russia 2-0 Saudi Arabia (Denis Cheryshev)

43 minWell what do I know? Dzagoev's replacement has just scored Russia's second goal, and it is a quite brilliant one too.

Saudi Arabia once again find themselves exposed at the back and the ball is played across to Golovin, whose pass into the path of an unmarked Cheryshev is a little underhit. However, the Villarreal midfielder clips the ball past two sliding defenders before lashing his finish beyond the keeper.

It is a stunning piece of skill, and an emphatic finish too. Russia are in dreamland!

Denis Cheryshev scores the second during the World Cup opener between Russia and Saudi Arabia on June 14, 2018© Reuters


45 minThere will be two minutes of added time at the end of this first half.

45+2 minHALF TIME: Russia 2-0 Saudi Arabia

4.56pmThe first half comes to an end in Moscow, and it is Russia who are celebrating at the halfway stage of this World Cup opener courtesy of a 2-0 lead over Saudi Arabia!

It is a deserved lead for the hosts too, who have dominated for the majority of that first half and could have been even further ahead. Saudi Arabia, for their part, have been very poor and offered very little.


4.58pmThe opening game of the World Cup arrived after only 12 minutes when Yury Gazinskiy not just opening his account, but also the account for the entire tournament with a well-cushioned header.

Golovin put a fine cross into the box which Gazinskiy met with a header after his marker had slipped. It was a perfect connection across the face of goal, nestling into the far corner.


5pmThe second goal came just before half time too, and this one one full of quality as Cheryshev - who had earlier come off the bench for the injured Dzagoev - dinked the ball over two sliding tackles before blasting it home.

It came at the end of a sweeping counter-attack from the hosts and at one stage it looked as though the chance might be gone, but Cheryshev did brilliantly to keep it alive and score.



5.02pmThere have also been half-chances for Dzagoev in that opening 45 minutes, and the only downside for Russia is that their star man was forced off which looks like it could be a tournament-ending hamstring injury after just a quarter of the match.

Dzagoev's departure did have an impact on Russia's control over the game too, which is why that strike from Cheryshev was so important just before half time.


5.04pm

46 minKICKOFF: Russia get us back underway for the second half!

48 minSaudi Arabia actually started that first half fairly well, but they didn't test Akinfeev at all in the opening 45 minutes and that simply has to change in this second half. Pizzi may already be thinking about changes.

50 minRussia win another early corner in the second half - as they did in the first - but once again it is cleared by the Saudis. No change in approach from the away team yet, though.

52 minSHOT! Saudi Arabia again cannot clear their lines properly as Russia keep the pressure on, and Smolov eventually pokes the ball into the path of Samedov. He puts his laces through it with a powerful effort, but it is always rising and flies over the crossbar.

54 minSaudi Arabia have just looked so shaky at the back, with Hawsawi in particular struggling with the occasion here. Something needs to change here.

56 minCHANCE! Saudi Arabia have their best chance of the match so far as a lovely ball into the box almost picks out Al-Sahlawi at the front post. The striker really should score, but he completely misses the ball and it bounces through, wide of the far post for a goal kick. Al-Jassim was also coming in at the back post and tried to get a touch, but couldn't reach it.

58 minCHANCE! Another half-chance for Saudi Arabia here, and Russia just need to keep an eye on this improvement. Again it comes via the aerial route as Al Faraj gets his head on a corner, only to put an unconvincing effort off target.

60 minHalf an hour to go in this match now and Saudi Arabia are beginning to see a bit more of the ball in the Russian half. Pizzi is yet to change anything, but there has been a slight improvement from the Saudis. They still need much more, though.

62 minBetter from Russia now as they just knock the ball about amongst themselves. It is all about game management for the hosts now - they have this game won unless they throw it away themselves.

64 minSAUDI ARABIA SUB: Suadi Arabia make their first change of the afternoon as Fahad Al Muwallad comes on in place of Otayf.

65 minRUSSIA SUB: Russia also make a change - their second of the match - as Daler Kuzyaev comes on for Samedov.

65 minCHANCE! Cheryshev again pops up inside the box, rising highest to meet a cross with his head, but his looping effort is plucked out of the air by the keeper.

67 minRussia will certainly come up against better opposition than today, so we may have to reserve judgement on them for now, but they have looked better than expected so far.

68 minCHANCE! Zobnin ducks into a shooting position and drills a low strike towards goal which Al-Maiouf almost scoops right into the path of the lurking Smolov. However, the Saudi keeper is bailed out as his team survive another scare.

70 minA third Russian goal does not feel to far away here. They are beginning to pile the pressure on again and Saudi Arabia look shaky when they do so.

70 minRUSSIA SUB: Russia make their third and final change as Artem Dzyuba replaces Smolov.

71 minGOAL! Russia 3-0 Saudi Arabia (Artem Dzyuba)

71 minWell, that didn't take long! Just one minute after coming on as a sub Artem Dzyuba has put this game to bed once and for all - and with his first touch too!

Golovin is the creator again as he swings his cross into the box, although Dzyuba really doesn't have to do much to peel away from his marker and plant a downward header into the bottom corner.


73 minSAUDI ARABIA SUB: Saudi Arabia have made a change in the immediate aftermath of that goal, with Hattan Babhir replacing Al Shehri.

73 minSHOT! Almost an immediate response from Saudi Arabia as Al Dawsari makes a great connection with an effort from outside the box, but it flies a yard or so past the post.

75 minHere is that third goal for Russia, and more poor defending from Saudi Arabia...



77 minThis has been a dream start for Russia - as good as they could have hoped for - but for Saudi Arabia it has been a nightmare. They have been much poorer than most would have expected.

79 minSaudi Arabia have had 60% of the ball today, which is a surprising statistic considering how cheaply they have given it away on numerous occasions.

81 minSome Dzyuba-related stats for you...





83 minRussia are content to allow Saudi Arabia to have the ball in these closing stages now. The hosts will be desperate to keep their clean sheet intact, but in truth it doesn't look in danger here.

85 minSAUDI ARABIA SUB: A third and final change for Saudi Arabia as Al-Sahlawi is replaced by Mohanad Aseri.

87 minGazinskiy almost gifts Saudi Arabia a consolation with a dangerous touch into his own box, but it is quickly hacked away.

88 minYELLOW CARD! The first card of the game arrives after 88 minutes as Golovin goes into the book, rather harshly.

90 minThere will be three minutes of added time at the end of this match.

90+1 minGOAL! Russia 4-0 Saudi Arabia (Denis Cheryshev)

90+1 minCheryshev has scored two absolute beauties today, and he caps the win off in style here!

Dzyuba knocks the ball down to Cheryshev, who takes it in his stride before impudently flicking his finish into the top corner with the outside of his boot from just inside the area. Brilliant strike.


90+3 minYELLOW CARD! Taiseer goes into the book late on, and it could get worse for Saudi Arabia here as Russia have a free kick in a good position.

90+5 minGOAL! Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia (Aleksandr Golovin)

90+5 minRussia have a fifth! What a finale to this match as the host nation begin their campaign with an incredible 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia, and it is another cracking goal!

Golovin lines up the free kick and fires a brilliant dipping effort inside the post and past the keeper!


90+6 minFULL TIME: Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia

6.13pmWell, who saw that coming?! Seven games without a win and ex-players declaring that it was the worst Russian team in generations, and yet with all that pressure on their shoulders the hosts have just produced a 5-0 victory in the opening match of the World Cup!

Granted, the opposition were poor and no-one will be getting ahead of themselves by suggesting that Russia may go all the way, but this victory will give them huge confidence going into their remaining Group A games against Egypt and Uruguay.

Russia's players celebrate going 2-0 up against Saudi Arabia in their Group A clash with Saudi Arabia in Moscow at the 2018 World Cup on June 14, 2018© Reuters


6.15pmRight, that is all we have time for this evening!

Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's game as Russia run riot in the World Cup opener, thrashing Saudi Arabia 5-0 in Moscow. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction too! There is plenty more World Cup action coming your way tomorrow, so check back in with us for that too.

From me, though, it is goodbye for now!


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