Russia made short work of Saudi Arabia with a 5-0 World Cup opener, but Juventus and Milan transfer target Aleksandr Golovin provided a goal and two assists.
The hosts opened the tournament at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow after the lavish opening ceremony and took on Saudi Arabia, who Italy beat 2-1 in a friendly last month. Milan Coach Gennaro Gattuso and director Massimiliano Mirabelli were in the stands.
It was a strong start from Russia, who broke through within 12 minutes after a series of corners. Juventus transfer target Golovin provided the assist with a floated cross to unmarked Yuri Gazinsky.
The celebrations didn’t last long, because Russian star Alan Dzagoev limped off with what looked to be a serious hamstring injury.
Denis Cheryshev came off the bench and scored the second goal before half-time, taking advantage of slack defending with Golovin’s searching pass involved again to smash in at the near post from six yards.
Another substitute made a big impact, as Dzyuba had only been on the pitch for 89 seconds when he nodded in a chipped Golovin assist.
Saudi defending was poor, but there was little that could be done to deny Cheryshev’s stunner in stoppages, a curler off the outside of the left boot into the far top corner.
Golovin got his name on the scoresheet too, adding to the two assists, by turning a free kick round the outside of the wall.
Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia
Gazinsky 12 (R), Cheryshev 42, 91 (R), Dzyuba 71 (R), Golovin 94 (R)
Russia: Akinfeev; Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov; Gazinsky, Zobnin; Samedov (Kuziaev 64), Dzagoev (Cheryshev 24), Golovin; Smolov (Dzyuba 70)
Saudi Arabia: Abdullah; Alburayk, Osama, Omar, Yasser; Salem, Otayf (Al-Muwallad 64), Salman, Taiseer, Yahia (Hatan 72); Al-Sahlawi (Asiri 85)
Ref: Pitana (ARG)
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