Russia showed no mercy in their Group A opener of the World Cup by defeating their opponents, Saudi Arabia 5 – 0 at the Luzhniki Stadium in Russia. CSKA Moscow’s midfielder Aleksandr Golovin was easily the star of the show with two assists and a goal to push the home team to a convincing victory.
Golovin set the ball rolling by setting up Yuri Gazinsky for a headed goal in the 12th minute before Russia’s key man Alan Dzagoev limped off with a potential hamstring injury. That didn’t deter the Russian onslaught as Dzagoev’s replacement Denis Cheryshev beat two defenders in the box and sliced a well-placed finish beyond the Saudi Arabian goalkeeper Abdullah Al Muaiouf before the break.
Russia continued their onslaught in the second half despite Saudi Arabia having greater possession of the ball – they never really tested Russia’s goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev who had nothing to do all game. Artyom Dzyuba came in as a sub to replace Fedor Smolov in the 70th minutes and scored Russia’s 3rd goal in the 71st minute with a header from a timely cross from Golovin from the right.
The Saudi Arabians looked jaded and out of shape, for some reason – perhaps they are still fasting. Cheryshev added his second goal of the game to extend the lead to 4 – 0 with a contender for goal of the tournament with an outside foot stunner struck inside the box. Aleksandr Golovin sprinkled more sauce in the game by netting a 90th minute freekick from just outside the box to raise the Russian flag high and set a marker down in the tournament as the hosts. It was a thoroughly enjoyable game and the best opening day World Cup match I have ever watched.
The opening ceremony was just okay, nothing too overwhelming, very Russian. However, it portrayed the scenery of the Russian metropolis and the architectural marvel that is the Luzhniki stadium. Many Head of States were present and they were all welcomed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and FIFA President, Gianni Infantino. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud was also present to watch his country’s poor outing, I also think I spotted Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda – apparently, he is really serious about investment in Rwanda.
The major damp on the Opening Ceremony was Robbie Williams’s performance, his song was awful and he showed the middle finger on live TV, how classless!!??