Russia.    5 Saudi Arabia 0

Home team scorersYuriy Gazinsky 12Denis Cheryshev 43Artem Dzyuba 71Denis Cheryshev 90 +0:48Alexandr Golovin 90

After all the negative talk in the lead-up, and the inescapable sense of unease that this opening match could turn up a humiliating experience for the host nation, it was tempting to wonder what all the fuss was about after Russia got the tournament started with an emphatic victory that was every bit as comfortable as the scoreline suggests.

The lowest-ranked team in the tournament – Saudi Arabia will surely assume that title by the time these finals are over – registered their first win in eight matches to put a smile on the face of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and allay those fears that a home World Cup would be some sort of ordeal for Stanislav Cherchesov and his players. That they were playing Saudi Arabia clearly helped.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here