The host nation was on fire in the opening fixture of the 2018 World Cup. Denis Cheryshev’s double, combined with a Golovin masterclass, was just too much for the Green Falcons.
The 2018 World Cup opener saw two of the lowest ranked teams up against each other. Russia (70) and Saudi Arabia (67) were looking to pick up some crucial points before they faced stronger opponents.
It was poised to be a close fixture, but turned out be a one-sided affair. Russia turned the screws on Saudi Arabia as the referee blew the whistle. The Green Falcons failed to maintain composure, and kept giving away the ball easily.
In the 12th minute, Yury Gazinsky scored his first International goal to open the scoring for the hosts. Russian midfielder Alan Dzagoev was forced off due to a hamstring injury in the 22nd minute.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 14, 2018
But in came Denis Cheryshev. The former Real Madrid player has been facing tough times recently, but Dzagoev’s injury was a blessing in disguise for him.
Chreyshev was constantly making runs into the Saudi box. On the brink of half-time, the Villareal midfielder took out two defenders with a sublime first touch and gave Russia a 2-0 lead.
WATCH: 5 Reasons Why Argentina Can Win The 2018 World Cup
The second half didn’t have much action, and was a cagey affair between the two sides until Artem Dzyuba was brought on by Russia. It took him 89 seconds to find the back of the net to give the hosts an unassailable lead.
Cheryshev wasn’t done yet, however. In the 90th minute, he pulled off an amazing shot from out of the box, a goal that could be the best of this tournament. With the last kick of the game, Golovin scored from a free-kick to take the scoreline up to 5-0.
Russia has definitely upped their chances to enter the knock stages, as a win against Uruguay or Egypt will confirm their spot into the next round.
On the other hand, Saudi face an uphill battle, as they need to recover quickly and pick up back to back wins to stay alive in the tournament.