Published: Fri, June 15, 2018
Arts&Culture | By Antoinette Montgomery

Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia kick off World Cup after opening ceremony

Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia kick off World Cup after opening ceremony

Two-time winners Argentina and one-time winners France and Spain are also among those fancied to lift the World Cup this summer.

The end result was a win beyond Russia's wildest dreams as the hosts claimed their biggest World Cup victory since defeating Hungary 6-0 in 1986.

Yuri Gazinsky made the point with a header from a pass by Alexander Golovin. After one goal scored by Russian Federation, the two men looked at each other, shrugged and then shook hands.

Artem Dzyuba was also on target a minute after coming on as a 70th-minute substitute and Aleksandr Golovin completed a memorable day by smashing in a free kick with the last action of the game.

Saudi Arabia's midfielder Taisir Al-Jassim (L) vies with Russia's midfielder Aleksandr Golovin during the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 14, 2018.

The president, newly re-elected after 18 years in power, will listen to British singer Robbie Williams with what the Kremlin listed as an array of 15 foreign leaders - though that included eight from ex-Soviet neighbours as well as two from Russian-backed breakaway regions of Georgia.

The duo are the first subs to ever score in a World Cup opener, according to statisticians Opta.

The completely refurbished Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow hosted the opening match, against the two lowest-ranked sides in the tournament.

But with the five goals against the Saudis, a draw could be enough against either of its two remaining opponents. Russian Federation next play Egypt on Tuesday in St Petersburg while the Saudis face Uruguay the following day in Rostov-on-Don.

The other Group A teams Uruguay and Egypt meet Friday in Yekaterinburg.

Aside from wing-back Yasser Al Shahrani, who impressed down the left flank, Saudi Arabia offered little and did not even threaten a shot on target.

Golovin is the young star of this Russian Federation team, and the CSKA midfielder was impressive against the Saudis, but Dzagoev's class and experience will be a key loss if he fails to recover in time for the remaining Group A games against Egypt and Uruguay. Flag-waving supporters from all over the world let out huge cheers and chanted "Russia!" as the host team scored twice in the first half at the city's Luzhniki Stadium.

Saudi Arabia sent some players to the Spanish league for experience this season but they didn't get much playing time while there.

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