Rampant Russia pummel Saudi Arabia 5-0 in World Cup opener

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MOSCOW, June 14: Denis Cheryshev struck twice for Russia as the World Cup hosts thumped Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening match of the tournament in Moscow on Thursday.
Iury Gazinsky scored after 12 minutes and Cheryshev added a second before the break after coming on as an injury replacement for Alan Dzagoev.
Artem Dzuyba netted a third before terrific late efforts from Cheryshev and Aleksandr Golovin wrapped up Russia’s first win since October to launch their Group A campaign in style.
Russia headed into the curtainraiser at the 80,000-capacity Luzhniki, the crucible of Russian and Soviet sport, without a victory in over eight months and ranked a lowly 70th in the world.
For Saudi Arabia it was a return to the global showpiece for the first time in 12 years, with their only previous finals wins at the 1994 World Cup. Only South Africa, in 2010, have failed to advance from the group stage as the host nation and a seven-match winless run had ramped up the pressure on Stanislav Cherchesov’s side. (AFP)