Denis Cheryshev struck twice for Russia as the FIFA World Cup 2018 hosts thumped Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening match of the tournament in Moscow on Thursday. Iury Gazinsky scored after 12 minutes and Cheryshev added a second before the break after coming on as an injury replacement for Alan Dzagoev. Artem Dzuyba netted a third before terrific late efforts from Cheryshev and Aleksandr Golovin wrapped up Russia’s first win since October to launch their Group A campaign in style.
Russia headed into the curtain raiser at the 80,000-capacity Luzhniki, the crucible of Russian and Soviet sport, without a victory in over eight months and ranked a lowly 70th in the world. For Saudi Arabia it was a return to the global showpiece for the first time in 12 years, with their only previous finals wins at the 1994 World Cup.