The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia got off to the perfect start for the hosts as the Russian national team cruised to a 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia, including two from Denis Cheryshev.
Saudi Arabia actually looked OK in pockets, and had a 63-37% possession advantage at halftime, but they too often played directly into Russia’s hands — Russia wanted to sit back, defend, and counter attack, and that’s exactly what they did.
Russia scored just 12 minutes into the match with a header from Lury Gazinsky, but they would need nothing more to take all three points and move atop Group A.
Russia’s second, third and fourth goals were all by substitutes: one by Artem Dzyuba and two by Denis Cheryshev. With time running out, Aleksandr Golovin got a fifth goal on a free kick, past a badly tired Saudi defense.
Saudi Arabia, a team whose players are virtually all based in their obscure home league, offered an air of mystery. But that was before the game. It became clear very quickly that they were no match for a Russian team that itself has not been a worldbeater in recent years.
See all goals details of Russia Vs Saudi arabia World cup football match:
- 12’ — GOAL RUSSIA: YURI GAZINSKY ON A BEAUTIFUL CROSS FROM GOLOVIN
- 43’ — GOAL CHERYSHEV, the substitute, a minute after blowing a chance for a cross because he refused to kick it with his right foot, gets the ball back and, after cutting back across two sliding defenders, gets it on his left and rockets in the top left corner. GOAL RUSSIA LEADS 2-0. Cheryshev loves his left foot!
- 71’ — GOAL FOR RUSSIA, AND IT’S DZYUBA FROM GOLOVIN. 3-0 RUSSIA.
- 90 + 1’ — GOAL RUSSIA, AND IT’S CHERYSHEV AGAIN. 4-0.
- 90+5’ — Golovin wins a free kick on the edge of the box, then curls it gorgeously around the wall and into the top right hand corner. GOAL RUSSIA, AND GOLOVIN GETS IN ON THE FUN. 5-0.
As for Saudi Arabia, if it manages even a 2-0 loss, say, in its remaining games, it will seem like an impressive accomplishment.
“I think that a poor performance explains the result,” said Saudi Manager Juan Antonio Pizzi, adding, perhaps unnecessarily, “As for our strategy, we must change.”
It’s an impressive start for the hosts who are now likely just three points away from a spot in the next round. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia needs to figure out how it is going to stop anybody. But of course, if you can’t score, you aren’t going anywhere. Consider the Saudi Arabian team a long shot to make the round of 16 with a negative-five goal differential to start the tourney.
“Egypt will be a different game, city and stadium,” said Manager Stanislav Cherchesov. “We need to meticulously prepare ourselves.”
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