WORLD CUP 2018
Russia vs Saudi Arabia: World Cup 2018 opening game, live!
Saudi Arabia went a goal down early and had no realistic chance after that as Russia tore them asunder on the counter time and time again as they won 5-0.
Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia: match report
It was the biggest margin of defeat since 1934 when Italy beat the United States 7-1. In a game between two sides who many believed would struggle in this World Cup, only one team did so at the Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday night.
After the opening ceremony's festivities, the 2018 World Cup got underway and almost immediately, there was a sense of fear in Saudi Arabia's defence. It was quite a stop-start opening to the game with Russia relying on set-pieces for their best chance and while it wasn't directly from a corner that they got their first goal, it was a cross after a corner.
Yuri Gazinskiy nodded home Aleksandr Golovin's cross from the left after disposing of a would-be tackler at the back post. Russia's World Cup had seen one shot on target and one goal after 12 minutes of action.
It wasn't all good news for Russia, however, as Alan Dzagoev was forced off after 24 minutes on a counter attack. Denis Cheryshev replaced him and he didn't take long to make his mark. He slammed the ball to the back of the next just before the break as Russia's counter-attacking style was becoming even more dominant in a game that Saudi Arabia were chasing.
It was much of the same for the second half and when substitute Artem Dzyube headed home a lovely Golovin cross on 71 minutes, it was a matter of damage limitation for Juan Antonio Pizzi's side.
And they couldn't even manage that as Denis Cherysev curled an outside of the boot shot into the top corner - a goal that will take a lot some beating for goal of the tournament - to make it four before the man of the match, Golovin, bent a free-kick home with almost the last kick of the game.
It's Egypt and Uruguay next for these two sides and while Russia have tougher days ahead, they dealt with Saudi Arabia convincingly in the opening game and give themselves a fighting chance to qualify out of their group as the World Cup continues.
Russia vs Saudi Arabia live: minute-by-minute
Russia vs Saudi Arabia live: preview
The Luzhniki is the location and the World Cup opening game is the event. Russia, the hosts of the tournament will play Saudi Arabia in the 2018 World Cup and excitement has reached fever pitch. This is Russia's 11th time at the World Cup finals. Saudi Arabia's first tournament was in 1984's Asian Cup and since then they have reached five World Cups.
Russia couldn't have asked for an easier group, literally, as they have the easiest possible group according to statistics that they could have been picked alongside. They will still most likely struggle, however, as news that Mo Salah is back for Egypt and Uruguay have the potent combo of Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez mixed with a staunch back-line. But for Thursday night, they have a very decent chance. They are managed by Stanislav Cherchesov and will be reliant on the rough and tumble Smolov and the lively Golovin in attack to get them goals. Here is a look at their squad.
Saudi Arabia struggled at the Gulf Cup of Nations without their manager Juan Antonio Pizzi at the tournament. They sent a developmental squad too and will be a lot stronger because of that at the World Cup. They rely heavily on Mohammed Al Sahlawi and he top the scoring charts for them during qualifying. Meanwhile, the Saudi players that went on loan to Spain did not make much of an impact but Salem Al-Dawsari came on for Villarreal during a 2-2 comeback draw against Real Madrid.