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Russia opens World Cup with romp over Saudi Arabia


Russia opened the 2018 World Cup in style thanks to a standout performance from a young playmaker.

Aleksandr Golovin assisted on two of the Russian goals and scored the fifth on Wednesday as they cruised past Saudi Arabia, 5-0 in Moscow. The win is Russia’s first World Cup victory since 2002.

It took just 12 minutes for the hosts to create their first World Cup moment as Iury Gazinsky sent the stadium into a frenzy with the game’s opener. Following a cleared corner kick, Golovin whipped a second ball to the back post, where Gazinskiy skied over his defender for the finish.

Soon after, the mood soured a bit for Russia as veteran midfielder Alan Dzagoev departed with an apparent hamstring injury. His replacement, Denis Cheryshev, made the most of his chance, scoring just moments before halftime to push the lead to 2-0.

Throughout the second half, Russia continued to push the pace against a clearly overmatched Saudi Arabia team before finally breaking through on a goal from another substitute. Artem Dzyuba provided the headed finish on a cross in from Golovin. Cheryshev added a fourth goal with an absolute lightning bolt of a shot from outside the penalty area in stoppage time and Golovin added to his already wonderful day by scoring on a free kick with the last action of the match.

Group A play continues on Friday as Egypt faces off with Uruguay.


Golovin assisted on two of the goals and scored one of his own as he furthered his reputation as one of the tournament’s young stars.


There’s nothing quite like a tournament-opening goal, and Gazinky’s headed finish set the tone for Russia’s dominance.


Saudi Arabia’s defense was nothing short of dreadful with captain Osama Hawsawi shouldering quite a bit of the blame.


  1. This was like watching the Germany Saudi game from 02 that ended 8-0. Yes, threw Germans made the final that year, but they were nothing like the current crop. The Russians just looked like they had a perfect game plan and that Saudi Arabia could do noting about it.
    So sloppy with acres of space on defense. If the Saudis play this bad the next two matches, Salah and Suarez may have 5 apiece.

  2. It wasn’t a question of “not doing homework”…the Saudis were just plain terrible.

    Small, slow, got pushed off the ball constantly. And sloppy – so very, very sloppy. So many cheap and inexcusable giveaways. The Russians moved at an incredibly sluggish pace but even that was obviously too fast for the Saudis. (MLS is frenetic in comparison to Russkie-ball.)

    It’s going to be a long, long World Cup for those guys. They were worse than that Bolivia B team we annihilated a couple weeks back.

  3. 2. Saudi?? should have done their homework….Aleksandr Golovin is being pursued by Arsenal AND MANCHESTER UNITED for a reason?!!!!

  4. 1. No player on the Russian?? Team have more than 20 caps
    2. Saudi?? should have done their homework….Aleksandr Golovin is being pursued by Arsenal for a reason?!!!!
    3. Denis Cheryshev WAS A SUB yet came on an scored two goals⚽⚽
    4. Saudi?? is rated higher than Russia??…….how does that even begin to make sense?

    Trying to playing possession football with no goal scorer up top (did they even get a shot on goal⁉️)

    Stay home or make an appearance and get blown out on the first, and only, game of the day…….hmmmmm

  5. Wow. How in the world did Saudi Arabia manage to qualify for the Cup?

    The last team I remember the USA playing that was this bad was maybe Cuba.

    The Saudis are actually fielding a team of professional players?


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