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FIFA World Cup 2018, Russia vs Saudi Arabia in Moscow, Highlights: Hosts Russia Hammer Saudi Arabia in Opener | June 15, 2018, 9:42 AM IST
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Catch all the live updates from the first match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia on News18Sports.

Preview: Host nation Russia are under enormous pressure to perform as they head into Thursday’s World Cup curtain-raiser against Saudi Arabia in a contest between the two lowest-ranked nations in the tournament. Stanislav Cherchesov’s side will walk out onto the pitch at the 80,000-capacity Luzhniki stadium, the historic crucible of Russian sport, ranked a lowly 70th in the world, three spots below Group A rivals Saudi Arabia, and without a victory in eight months.
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Jun 14, 2018 10:26 pm (IST)

Full time: Russia beat Saudia Arabia 5-0 in the first match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Moscow. 

Jun 14, 2018 10:25 pm (IST)

GOAL: This is an absolute rout on the opening day! Alexander Golovin has put the cherry on the cake with a beautiful free-kick from the right just outside the penatly box. Saudi Arabia will have to dig deep to recover from this. Russia lead 5-0

Jun 14, 2018 10:23 pm (IST)

GOAL: Denis Cheryshev with an absolute pile-driver with the outside of his left foot from the edge of the penalty box. Russia have pumped in four goals against Saudia Arabia, with three coming from subs. 

Jun 14, 2018 10:17 pm (IST)

Free-kick in a dangerous position on the left wing for Russia, who have thrown in all the big boys for this. They are surely looking for a fourth to make it a more convincing win with the President watching on. The set-piece has led to another corner for Russia. 

Jun 14, 2018 10:11 pm (IST)

There's ten minutes to go for Saudi Arabia to either mount a stunning comeback or stop this from becoming a rout. Russia don't seem to be shutting shop just yet either but the opposition has not been very threatening either. 

Jun 14, 2018 10:09 pm (IST)

Saudi Arabia have been quite poor in this match apart from passing the ball between themselves in front of the Russian defense. Russia on the other hand have managed to take advantage of the mistakes and make that count. Russia definitely more precise and incisive in attack today than their opponents which is showing on the scoreline. 

Jun 14, 2018 10:06 pm (IST)
Jun 14, 2018 10:03 pm (IST)

GOAL: Yet another goal from a substitute. Russia's Golovin puts in a perfect ball to the far post and soon after coming onto the ground Dzyuba with a textbook header has made it 3-0. That should be the game for Russia.

Jun 14, 2018 10:00 pm (IST)

The sight of this Saudi defense will surely be something both Luis Suarez of Uruguay and Mohamed Salah of Egypt will looking forward to face later on in the group stages. 

Jun 14, 2018 9:59 pm (IST)

From the looks of it Russia are not yet shutting shop. Yet another close chance but Smolov wasn't able to convert after the initial shot was saved by Abdullah in goal. The Russians are having absolutely no trouble finding gaps in the Saudi defense to exploit. 

Jun 14, 2018 9:50 pm (IST)

Saudi Arabia have been better at passing the ball around and have actually completed more passes than Russia, but have been wasteful and careless in the final third which has hurt them. The defense has been chaotic at times too which is something Russia have taken advantage of once. 

Jun 14, 2018 9:49 pm (IST)

The Saudi Arabians have looked better in the first 15 odd minutes of the second half than the whole of the first half. Yasser's free-kick from the left was met in the box by a team-mate but the header went over the goal. 

Jun 14, 2018 9:47 pm (IST)

Saudi Arabia keep the possession for a while and slow things down to their pace before a cross from the right wing by Alsahlawi had the Russian defense in two minds. Easily the best chance for Saudi Arabia in the match. But with no one to tap it in home at the second post, the score remains 2-0 in favour of Russia. 

Jun 14, 2018 9:42 pm (IST)

The Russians are keen on a third goal from the looks of it in the early stages of the second half. That would kill the contest and the hosts would surely not mind it. They have moved the ball around better under pressure in the final third than their opponents today. 

Jun 14, 2018 9:40 pm (IST)

Early corner for Russia in the second half as Smolov is stopped from going through on goal. Saudi Arabia have cleared the corner and Russia will rebuild. 

Jun 14, 2018 9:37 pm (IST)

Russia have kicked of the second half in Moscow and it will be interesting to see how they deal with the second half. Will they continue to press the Saudi Arabia defense or hold back and take the score as it stands. 

Jun 14, 2018 9:34 pm (IST)

Russia are emerging from the tunnel for the second half of the match. They have a two goal lead and no one has ever overturned a 2 goal deficit on the opening day. 

Jun 14, 2018 9:19 pm (IST)

Half-time: Russia lead Saudi Arabia 2-0 after Yuri Gazinskiy and Denis Cheryshev scored past Osama Abdullah. 

Jun 14, 2018 9:18 pm (IST)

There will be two minutes of added time at least at the end of the first half. The first period has been good for Russia as they managed to not only keep Saudi Arabia at bay, but also have hit the back of the net twice. They have lost Dzagoev through injury but Cheryshev seems ready to take over and take it up a notch. 

Jun 14, 2018 9:15 pm (IST)

GOAL: Super sub Denis Cheryshev takes advantage of some sloppy defending by Saudi Arabia in the penalty box before smashing it in to the top corner. Smolov's passed the ball to him on the left in space and he did have some luck before doubling the lead for hosts. 

Jun 14, 2018 9:13 pm (IST)

Both Russia and Saudi Arabia's tempo in the game has fallen a little and unfortunately for the neutral there are a lot of passes not making it to the correct player. It is an aspect the coaches will want to look at half time. 

Jun 14, 2018 9:09 pm (IST)

While this game heads to the half-time break with less than ten minutes to go in the first 45, there is news that Dele Alli has been handed a one-match ban for misconduct during the FIFA World Cup qualifers. 

Jun 14, 2018 9:07 pm (IST)

Russia's defense has been brilliantly organised so far in the first half and Saudi Arabian players have been giving it their all to break the resistance. The Russians haven't budged and their keeper Akinfeev is yet to be tested in this game. 

Jun 14, 2018 9:04 pm (IST)

Saudi Arabia have been wasteful in attack through the first half-hour in the game. Not only have their passes been overhit or not found the desired player, but also they haven't been good at using a set play. A  good position was wasted after Salman's delivery was jumped on by three attackers who did not communicate amongh themselves. 

Jun 14, 2018 8:59 pm (IST)

With 25 minutes gone, it is fair to say that the game's balance is more in the favour of the hosts. Much better at moving the ball around once they settled in to a rhythm. The pressure continues to be on Saudi Arabia who have ben defending or playing catch up with the Russians for most of the time so far.

Jun 14, 2018 8:55 pm (IST)

Horrible news for Russia as their forward Dzagoev looks to have done some damage to his left hamstring. Stopped running and fell down clutching the hamstring. It looks like that's the end of the game for him. Denis Cheryshev is the substitute replacing him.  

Jun 14, 2018 8:53 pm (IST)

Saudia Arabia have not had much joy in attack so far, but their first move of substance in the 20th minute gets them a corner after Kutepov clears out with his head. Back to back corners in fact. 

Jun 14, 2018 8:52 pm (IST)

Yuri Gazinskiy's goal was the first shot on target in the game and the hosts are looking to pile on the attacks against their oppositions. They have to win this game as the next ones against Egypt and Uruguay will be much harder. It is also the fifth fastest goal at a World Cup. 

Jun 14, 2018 8:48 pm (IST)

Russia are looking to up the ante and are threatening at every chance they can get. After the opening goal, the hosts once again move the ball down their right wing and are using the space behind the defense to trouble Saudi Arabia's defense. This won't be easy for the Asian giants. 

Jun 14, 2018 8:45 pm (IST)

GOAL:  Finally, the third corner of the day has worked for Russia as Gazinskii has opened the scoring for the home side with a brilliant header. There was no defender at the far post when the ball was crossed in and the number 8 headed home the easiest of finishes in the 12th minute of the game. 

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FIFA World Cup 2018, Russia vs Saudi Arabia in Moscow, Highlights: Hosts Russia Hammer Saudi Arabia in Opener
Russian team celebrates after scoring a goal against Saudi Arabia. (Image: FIFA)

A 1-1 draw in Moscow with Turkey last week made former national team goalkeeper Cherchesov the first Russian or Soviet manager to go winless in seven consecutive games, four of those ending in defeat. Russia has spent more than $13 billion on preparations for the big event, and President Vladimir Putin called on the team to pull themselves together as they look to progress from a section also featuring Uruguay and Egypt. “As far as the team are concerned, I must acknowledge the fact that, unfortunately, our team have not achieved big results in recent times,” Putin said. “But we very much expect – all fans and lovers of football in Russia – expect the team to play with dignity, for them to show modern, interesting football, and to fight until the end.” Igor Akinfeev, Russia’s most recognisable player and first-choice goalkeeper for more than a decade, admits his team-mates must take the game to the opposition.

“The team have to come out and play,” Akinfeev said after a 1-0 friendly loss to Austria last month in which Russia managed no shots on target. “If they do not, the score is not going to change.” Akinfeev, the Russian captain, has played more games for club and country than Soviet goalkeeping legends Lev Yashin and Rinat Dasayev. But the team’s reliance on the 32-year-old, who infamously went a staggering 43 Champions League matches without keeping a clean sheet over an 11-year span, speaks volumes about the home team’s chances. Russia have never made the knockout stage of a World Cup as an independent nation and are desperate to make amends this summer. Only South Africa, in 2010, have fallen at the group stage as hosts but poor form combined with a series of injuries have left Russia in disarray. Zenit St Petersburg striker Alexander Kokorin was lost to a serious knee injury in March, adding to the absence of defenders Georgi Dzhikiya and Viktor Vasin. Krasnodar forward Fyodor Smolov and Artem Dzyuba, loaned out to Arsenal Tula in January after falling out with ex-Zenit coach Roberto Mancini, will spearhead the attack, while former Real Madrid winger Denis Cheryshev is back in the squad after more than two years out. Saudi Arabia are returning to the global showpiece for the first time since 2006, prompting the country’s sports authority to strike a pact to send players on loan to Spain to gain experience at the top level. Fahad Al-Muwallad, whose goal against Japan last September clinched qualification, was one of nine players involved in the agreement but it was derided as a “fiasco”. Muwallad, who was on loan at Levante, and winger Salem Al-Dawsari, at Villarreal, only played for a few minutes at the end of the season. Attacking midfielder Yahia Al-Sheri, who went to Leganes, never played in a match. “From a sporting point of view, this is perhaps the biggest fiasco of the agreement, because the participation of these nine players has been practically negligible,” former Gijon president and University of Oviedo football economist Placido Rodriguez told AFP. “Knowing training techniques or playing with Spaniards, that is not why they come, clearly. They come for more than that, to contribute, to experience another rhythm of play, and that is done by playing, not training.” Mohammed Al-Sahlawi, who had a three-week spell training with Manchester United, bagged a staggering 16 goals in qualifying, but the 31-year-old arrives at the finals stuck in a nine-game scoring drought.
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