Could it be more perfect for Russia? Well, nobody thinks of the same as the host wiped Saudi Arabia with a 5-0 win in the opening match of the World Cup 2018. Although before the ball was first kicked, Saudi Arabia was initially the favorites in this Russia vs. Saudi Arabia, but as it went, it was pretty clear that Russia has the full capability to clear the group stage with ease.
It is an obvious thing that Russia had a good draw before the start of the tournament, but it should also be admitted that the host has fully capitalized the same. With Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay in their group; Russia must capitalize on this win and look forward to clearing the group stage as well.
Just after the 24 minutes of the kickoff, Russian midfielder Alan Dzagoev had a hamstring injury and was substituted by Denis Cherishev, who plays for Spanish club Villareal as a left winger. The smart move from the Russian coach worked as Denis scored 2 goals out of all the 5.
Another thing which we all have noticed is the defending of Saudi Arabia is the poor line of defense. The first goal of the lovely Russia vs. Saudi Arabia match, which came in the 12th minute of the play was clearly due to the bad line of defense. Russians were awarded a corner kick, taken by young Golovin was almost cleared. However, Russia again got the possession and Saudi Arabia defenders literally left two strikers unmarked when a cross from Golovin was capitalized by Lury Gazinsky.
Denis was fouled in the penalty box in the 35th minute, however, the Referee denied the situation and nothing were called. After 8 minutes of the incident, Cheryshev controlled the ball well the box and keeping his mind cool, gifted Russia with his goal in the 43rd
Everyone one was hoping for an equalizer from Saudi, but, alas! All that Saudi Arabia has to work on now is their defense and of course finishing. In the total of 90 minutes in Russia vs. Saudi Arabia, the possession looked something around 39% to 61% in favor of the visitors. However, in this 39% of ball possession, Russia successfully managed to shoot the ball in the opponent’s box 16 times with 7 shots hitting the target. On the hand, Saudi Arabia only managed to hit 6 shots, none hitting the target.
With great counter-attacking and well-managed center forwards, the first half of the game ended in 2-0 in favor of the host. After the break, Saudi looked somehow in control, however after another substitute from Russia, they gain looked pretty prejudiced. On 71st minute of the game, a brilliant header from the Russian substitute Artem Dyzuba made the lead 3-0.
Soon after the third goal, it was quite obvious from the scenario that Saudi is not going to handle the situation up. And that is exactly what happened in Russia vs. Saudi Arabia, as the visitors were completely unbalanced, resulting to 2 more goals in the injury time. In the 91st minute, Cheryshev scored a beauty with the outside of his left and is sure the goal of the match today. In the last minute of the game, 22-year-old, Golovin joined the party as he scored a stunning free kick from 20 yards away off the post.
In a word, Russia vs. Saudi Arabia, the curtain raiser of 2018 world was pretty good for a start of the season, as Russia kept the record of not losing the first game of world cup as a host.