Russian Federation v Saudi Arabia Analysis

Lynette Rowe
June 15, 2018

Denis Cheryshev showed great skill of his own to double the hosts' lead just before half time with a left-footed piledriver, and Artem Dzyuba headed Russia's third in the 71st minute - 89 seconds after coming on as a substitute. However, what seemed to be a class apart at the stadium amid the huge roar from the Russian fans was President Vladimir Putin's reaction at each goal.

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Russian Federation then almost grabbed a third when Abdullah Al-Muaiouf spilled a low drive from Roman Zobnin, the Saudi goalkeeper recovering just time in time to nudge the ball away from Smolov.

This was not enough for the hosting team and less than a minute later Russia's Alexander Golovin scored another goal with a free kick sealing the final score at impressive 5-0.

Russian Federation has left no stone unturned preparing for its most important event since the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics, spending more than $13 billion (11 billion euros) on infrastructure in the 11 host cities.British pop star Robbie Williams performed at the opening ceremony at the Luzhniki.

The match at the legendary Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital has a seating capacity of 80,000 and today's attendance was reported at over 78,000 spectators.

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Here are three things we learned from day one of the 2018 World Cup.

The Green Falcons failed to fly high on Thursday night, with Saudi Arabia's national team on the receiving end of a 5-0 thrashing in the first game of the World Cup.

With some 200,000 visiting fans in the country to follow the 32 teams, Putin has urged Russians to put on a show and get behind the home team - a task not helped by poor form that makes them the tournament's weakest side by Federation Internationale de Football Association world ranking. The Saudis will face Uruguay on June 20 and then Egypt on June 25.

While Neymar, the world's most expensive player, has recovered from a broken bone in his foot in time, the strength of prolific Egypt striker Mohamed Salah's injured shoulder is less certain.

Saudi Arabia fired Carlos Alberto Parreira after a 4-0 loss to hosts France in the group stages in 1998, even though four years earlier he had won the World Cup with his native Brazil.

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