Soccer / saudiarabia
Russia Flatter to Deceive in 5 - 0 Over Saudi Arabia
Man of the Match Denis Cheryshev (Russian No. 6) leaves the Saudi defence in tatters on way to scoring the second goal (Photo courtesy of Thai PBS) Hosts Russia could not have hoped for a better start to the 2018 World Cup than their opening match in Moscow against Saudi Arabia which ended 5-0 in their favour. Prior to the match, Robbie Williams, the star of the opening ceremony, courted controversy as he changed the lyrics to his 2000 hit song 'Rock DJ' and saluted billions of viewers worldwide with his middle finger. It is widely believed that the English popstar was hitting out at his critics who had accused him of selling his soul for an indecent amount of money to perform in Moscow for the 2018 World Cup. Back on the pitch, the lowest ranked team of the tournament looked way out of their depth as they struggled to cope with the Russians. Earlier fears of an upset were quickly put to rest when the Saudi defence failed to clear a corner kick, allowing Iury Gazinsky all the time in the world to head home the first goal of the tournament after just 12 minutes. A potentially tournament ending hamstring injury suffered by Alan Dzagoev in the 23 minute turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Russians as substitute Denis Cheryshev would end up as Man of the Match with 2 goals to his name. Cheryshev made an almost immediate impact and was finally rewarded with a goal just before half-time when he left the Saudi defence in shambles before coolly slotting the ball past the hapless Saudi goalkeeper for Russia's second goal. In the second half, Saudi Arabia kept up their lacklustre performance. They lacked penetration and ideas moving forward and while they dominated possession, the ball was often restricted to the Saudi's defensive third of the field as they desperately tried to avoid losing possession. As the match wore on, the Saudi players started to flag and it was no surprise when the Russians managed to add 3 goals to their final tally in the last 23 minutes of the match. Yes, the Russians thrashed the Saudi Arabians 5 goals to nil. But that was largely due to the woeful performance of the latter than a testament to the skills and prowess of the former. The hosts need to up their game against Egypt on Tuesday or they could find themselves crashing out of the tournament at the group stage.
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