Russian Federation puts doubts to rest with rout of Saudi Arabia

Both sides come into the match after disappointments in the warm-up games and being separated by a mere three points in the FIFA rankings, picking a side between the two can test even the best of football pundits. The Saudi team continued to concede possession to the hosts, unable to push their way up the pitch and create any meaningful opportunities.

Day 1 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup is in the books.

Russia's Denis Cheryshev, who scored twice, said: "There are no words to express what I'm feeling right now. We didn't expect this to be honest", said 34-year-old Veronika Kripolapova.

He missed the final months of that season with injury and was again sidelined for much of the 2016-17 campaign before working his way back into World Cup contention at Villarreal this term.

Gazinskiy's strike marked the first time that the opening goal of a World Cup tournament has been a header since 1990 (Francois Omam-Biyik for Cameroon v Argentina).

Russian fans were less numerous than worldwide ones, but were ecstatic as their team pulled off a triumphant start to the championship.

He then scored a screamer, Russia's fourth, in the added time of the second half. The Green Falcons have four losses and two wins in their previous six matches and showed great determination in a narrow 2-1 defeat in a friendly against the defending champions Germany.

Saudi Arabia - Al-Mayoof; Al-Burayk, Osama Hawsawi, Omar Hawsawi, Shahrani; Ateef, Faraj; Dawsari, Jassam, Shehri; Muwallad. Enthusiasm was at a premium, but there are some players with star quality and an ability to win them the game.

Russia, the lowest ranked side in the tournament, swamped the Asian side from the kick off and made the most of their early dominance with a fine header from Yuri Gazinksiy in the 12th minute. After sixty minutes the Saudi attempts waned and Russian Federation simply grew stronger and more unsafe.

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Denis Cheryshev scored the second goal for Russian Federation on 42 minutes.

In Group A, which also comprises two-time champions Uruguay and African hopefuls Egypt, the world No. 70 Sbornaya - "the team" in Russian - have to capitalise on a meeting against a side ranked just three rungs above them.

"I could never have dreamed of anything like this".

It comes as some relief to Russian Federation, who went into the tournament low on confidence, and they have now given themselves a genuine chance at qualifying out of the group.

Alan Dzagoev had been at the heart of things in their midfield promptings but had to go off after pulling a hamstring in the 23rd minute.

Dzagoev's injury could deny Russian Federation their best player for the remainder of the tournament, but they certainly have alternatives who can be similarly important. I don't believe that the opposing team has done anything to surprise us - I think that a poor performance explains the result.

Saudi Arabia have not won any of their past 11 games at the World Cup (drew two, lost nine).

"As for our strategy, we must change".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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