The hosts served up an adrenaline-fuelled performance for an 80,000-capacity Luzhniki crowd [Maxim Shemetov/Reuters]
Hosts Russia roared their World Cup intent to the rafters with a 5-0 tournament-opening win over Saudi Arabia and end a nine-month winless run.
Substitute Denis Cheryshev scored twice – the first after a piece of skill that would have graced a Lionel Messi highlights reel – and the second a superb shot in stoppage time on Thursday.
Yury Gazinsky had headed the World Cup’s first goal after 12 minutes, Artem Dzyuba got the third a minute after coming on as a 70th-minute substitute and Aleksandr Golovin completed a memorable day by smashing in free kick with the last action of the game.
The result equalled the best-ever in a World Cup opening game – Brazil beat Mexico 5-0 in Geneva in 1954 – as Russia took full advantage of a Saudi team who’s defending fell painfully short of World Cup standard, while their attack was non-existent.
Russia’s fans will not care about that after enduring a wretched run of seven games without a win but they will be aware that the Asian qualifiers look desperately ill-equipped to trouble Egypt or group favourites Uruguay, who meet tomorrow, and that there is still much to be done for the hosts to secure progress to the knockout stage.
Egypt and Uruguay are due to play the second Group A match in Yekaterinburg on Friday.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies