Host Russia opened the 2018 World Cup on a high beating a lowly Saudi Arabia 5-0 to lay a great foundation for a place in the last 16.
Yury Gazinsky opened the Russian account with a superb header from a delightful cross just 12 minutes into the game before Cherrychev added a second two minutes before recess.
Cherrychev got Russia’s third and his personal second when he curled a shot with the outside of his foot in added time. But that was not the end of the story. Artem Dzyuba and Aleksandr Golovin ended the one-sided game with a great header and a superb free kick.
It could have been more for the host and embarrassing for the Saudis who already hold an unenviable record as one of the teams with the heaviest defeats in the World Cup having crumbled 8-0 under a German attack in 2002 in the World Cup.
Russia was not going to depart from what is becoming a tradition of hosts winning their opening games but only few could predict a 5-0 scoreline against Saudi Arabia.
It was a cagey duel in the beginning with lots of speed and less of skill from both teams but it was the host who were more purposeful. It was only a matter of time for the opener and Gazinsky did in spectacular fashion.
With an inch-perfect cross from the left, the FC Krasnodar midfielder headed home beyond the reach of the outstretched Abdulla in post for the Saudis.
If he failed to parry away the first header, Abdulla could not afford another failure when he fisted a goal-bound shot two minutes later.
Totally against the run of play, Alsahlawi, came close with an equalizer for the Saudis in the 21st minute but his header inched wide.
From then on, the host made their guests uncomfortable with massive raids into their goal area until Saudi Arabia crumbled again.
With horrible defending, Cherrychev counted it as a blessing when he kept a cool head with an audacious dummy of two Saudi defenders before slotting past Abdulla for the second goal in the 43rd minute.
Back from recess, nothing changed. The Saudis defended deep, hoping to catch the host on the break.
Their best chance of the game came in the 55th minute when a cross from the right flew across the face of goal, begging for a tap-in but it never came.
Then it was trouble all through for the guests. Similar to the first goal, Artem Dzyuba in the 71st minute squeezed a perfect header low and soft but left Abdullah completely helpless.
Russia kept lunging for more goals until Cherrychev got his personal second deep into added time. With the outside of his foot, he curled a shot to the far corner of the post and left Abdullah dangling in the air for nothing.
Golovin ended the raid with an immaculate free-kick also in added time, posting an impressive victory over the oil-rich Saudi side.
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