MOSCOW (CNN) – As Russian President Vladimir Putin called for nations to set aside their differences, and pop star Robbie Williams was featured in a musical opening ceremony, Russia made a dream start to the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a thumping 5-0 victory in their opening game against Saudi Arabia.
Featuring the lowest ranked teams in the tournament, not much entertainment was expected in this opening World Cup match. But two goals from Denis Cherushev and Iury Gazinsky, Artem Dzyuba and Aleksandr Golovin strikes gave the partisan supporters inside of the 81,000 capacity Luzhniki Stadium plenty to cheer about.
The win, Russia’s first in 2018, gives the host nation a precious three points to temporarily top a group which is only going to get harder for Stanislav Cherchesov’s men, with fixtures against Egypt and Uruguay still to come.
This week, Putin had said that Russia — going into the tournament ranked 70th in the world, three places below Saudi Arabia — would “fight until the end.” But, in this match at least, a poor Saudi Arabia proved to be obliging opponents as they gave the hosts freedom in possession and, crucially, the opposition box.
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