Match Report: Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia

Russia's midfielder Yuri Gazinskiy (L) celebrates scoring the opening goal with his teammates during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Russia and Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 14, 2018. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the first World Cup match. It was a mixture of talent from Russia and mistakes from Saudi Arabia which settled the result.

Yuri Gazinskiy Goal Ignites Russia Riot against Saudi Arabia

First Half

Russia scored the opening goal of the tournament on 12 minutes as Yuri Gazinskiy converted a cross from Aleksandr Golovin with a thumping header.

A sad moment occurred in the twenty-third minute when Alan Dzagoev picked up an injury. He was to be a key player for Russia, yet this injury could possibly curtail his involvement.

Aleksandr Golovnin was seemingly felled in the penalty area, but the referee deemed Osama Hawsawi to have won the ball.

The first half saw few chances for either side, both sides missing at least three shots each. But the header from Gazinskiy was the sole shot on target for Russia, which managed to spur Russia on to dominate the half.

Denis Cheryshev scored the second goal for Russia on 42 minutes. Some scrappy defending from Saudi Arabia, some excellent skill and a smashing finish from Denis Cheryshev. He flicked the ball to miss two tackles before unleashing a thunderbolt into the top left corner.

Second Half

Saudi Arabia attempted to continue with their possession-based game in the second half. However, many passes were misplaced and moves broke down too easily. At 2-0 down this appeared to be fruitless

Two chances for Saudi Arabia were developed in a five minute period of revival. A fantastic cross whipped in by Salman Al Faraj could not be converted by Mohammed Al Sahlawi. This was a golden opportunity that really would have let them back into the game.

Russia put the nail in the coffin with a towering header from substitute Artem Dzyuba. Again it was a good cross from but it was a free header from the striker, whose physical presence could not be dealt with by the defender.

The rout continued with a fantastic goal from Cheryshev who fired the ball into the top right corner with the outside of his left foot in the ninetieth minute. Swiftly after,  Aleksandr Golovin curled a fantastic free-kick in the right-hand side of the goal.


This was a match that lacked sustained moments of quality. Instead, it descended into a rather scrappy affair. Russia allowed Saudi Arabia to dominate possession, but they were incredibly wasteful with it. Russia at least had some clinical finishing, but it was equally due to Saudi Arabia’s poor defending that the goals were created.

The pace of the match was rather slow due to the sloppy changes in possession. After sixty minutes the Saudi attempts waned and Russia simply grew stronger and more dangerous. By the end of the match, the game became rather like a training exercise, with the intensity ebbing.

Hosts Set The Tone

Russia notched five goals in their first match. Whilst their overall display wasn’t that impressive, their glut of goals set the bar for the rest of the tournament to follow. Fans are always up for seeing goals even at the expense of poor football. This is important also in terms of setting up a good goal difference. Now Russia’s competitors will need to step up to this mark to keep up with their goalscoring form.

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