Vladimir Putin says football unites planet as World Cup begins in Russian Federation

Sports       by Muhammad Irfan | Published

Every World Cup needs the host nation to energise the population, and Russian Federation have ticked that box with this result.

"We saw that we are on the right track but we should forget this game and concentrate on the next one", Cherchesov said after ending a seven-game winless run in emphatic style.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud and Federation Internationale de Football Association president Gianni Infantino attended the opener along with further dignitaries and heads of state - but none from Western European or North American countries.

The Russians served up an adrenaline-fuelled performance for an 80,000-capacity Luzhniki crowd which included President Vladimir Putin and the Saudi crown prince.

Saudi Arabia's midfielder Taisir Al-Jassim (L) vies with Russia's midfielder Aleksandr Golovin during the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 14, 2018.

After Cheryshev's first goal, Artyom Dzyuba made an instant impact off the bench to make it 3-0 in the 71st with a header from Golovin's cross.

Yet given Saudi Arabia's high turnover of coaches, including a previous mid-World Cup sacking, the Argentine-born Pizzi could well be on his way before he gets a chance to try and rectify the situation.

The World Cup got under way after British pop singer Robbie Williams took centre stage at the opening ceremony.

What's next? The other two sides in Group A - Egypt and Uruguay - open their campaigns when they meet at midnight tonight (NZT).

The hosts could hardly have dreamt of a better start to their home tournament, putting the Saudis to the sword with the last two goals coming in added time.

Saudi Arabia's next Group A encounter is against Uruguay in Rostov on June 20.

Saudi Arabia's route to the knockout round is much more hard.

Cheryshev then smashed in his second goal and Aleksandr Golovin scored from a freekick in the final minutes to wrap up a comfortable Russian win in which the Saudis failed to test Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.

Russian Federation meet Egypt in their next match on Jun 19 in Saint Petersburg, while Saudi Arabia will look to rebound against group favourites Rostov-on-Don a day later. Flag-waving supporters from all over the world let out huge cheers and chanted "Russia!" as the host team scored twice in the first half at the city's Luzhniki Stadium.

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