Published: Fri, June 15, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Russian Federation rips Saudi Arabia 5-0 in World Cup opener

Russian Federation rips Saudi Arabia 5-0 in World Cup opener

Vladimir Putin craves sporting glory, and he got another taste of it in the opening match of the World Cup.

Substitute Denis Cheryshev scored two goals on Thursday (Friday NZ Time) to lead the host nation over Saudi Arabia 5-0 in Group A with President Vladimir Putin watching from the stands alongside Federation Internationale de Football Association president Gianni Infantino.

And before Russian Federation prepared to meet Saudi Arabia, Putin told the kingdom's crown prince that he must cheer for the home team.

Then, to the delight of the home fans, Iury Gazinsky headed Russian Federation in front in the 12th minute after a cross from Aleksandr Golovin. Another substitute, Artem Dzyuba, came straight off the bench to head home a goal off his first touch.

His potential move to Juventus stirred excitement at home this week after years in which Europe's best clubs have lost nearly all interest in Russian talent.

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Iury Gazinsky scored after 12 minutes and Cheryshev added a second goal before the break after coming on as an injury replacement for Alan Dzagoev.

With President Vladimir Putin watching, Cheryshev chipped the ball over two Saudi defenders in the 43rd minute and shot over goalkeeper Abdullah Al Muaiouf's right side. But that's not the case with Russian Federation, whose two remaining games are against group favorites Uruguay and Egypt.

Russian Federation made it 3-0 in the 71st minute when Golovin chipped in a cross for giant striker Dzyuba to rise and head in from close range.

A candid Pizzi dismissed the notion his players had been affected by it being the first game of the tournament, but conceded it had not been a positive experience.

At the end of the glittering opening ceremony by Brit singer Robbie Williams and Russian soprano Aida Garifullina, President Putin addressed the crowd.

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Even Russian President Vladimir Putin, sitting next to Federation Internationale de Football Association president Gianni Infantino and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, found himself looking over like "hey, what can you do?"

The World Cup favourites enter the fray this weekend. "I trust in my players and I fully trust that we will have a better performance in the next game".

Saudi Arabia recently lifted a ban on women driving, although that has been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent.

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