World Cup 2018 hosts Russia have cruised to a 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia in Group A, as Yury Gazinski headed them ahead on 12 minutes at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
The win was by the biggest margin in the history of World Cup openings, against arguably the poorest team in the tournament, although the Saudis are ranked three places above Russia at 67 in the world rankings.
The opener was scored after Gazinski leapt high to guide a cross from CSKA Moscow’s 22-year-old Aleksandr Golovin, from the left past Abdullah al-Mayouf and inside the left upright giving him his first goal in seven matches with the Russian national team.
The second goal came just as half-time was approaching. Denis Cheryshev had come off the bench in the 23rd minute for Alan Dzagoev who was clutching his hamstring after going down.
Cheryshev skillfully dinked the ball over a sliding defender then powered an effort into the roof of the net for his first goal for his country after 12 caps.
Artem Dzyuba headed Russia’s third in the 71st minute – 89 seconds after coming on as a substitute after easily rising above his defender to divert a header into the bottom corner.
As the game went into injury time Cheryshev scored the 4th from about 22 yards, bending a sensational effort with the outside of his boot right into the top corner.
Two minutes later Golovin put the icing on the cake with a free kick from 25 yards curled precisely into the top corner via his right boot.
After the match Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov said he did not know if injured Dzagoev would play again in the tournament but will know more after a scan on Friday.
Egypt and Uruguay are due to play the second Group A match in Yekaterinburg on Friday.