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Russia v Saudi Arabia Live Commentary, 14/06/2018

5 - 0
Y. Gazinskiy (12)
D. Cheryshev (43)
A. Dzyuba (71)
D. Cheryshev (90+1)
A. Golovin (90+4)
Stadion Luzhniki


Thanks for joining our commentary today. Until next time, goodbye.
Russia now have momentum to take into their next two Group A games after making the perfect start to the tournament. Saudi Arabia on the other hand need to get themselves into gear ahead of their next outing against Uruguay.
Russia make the perfect start to the tournament with a hammering of Saudi Arabia in the opening match of the 2018 World Cup. Stanislav Cherchesov's men dominated their opponents with their clinical edge in the final third. Yuri Gazinskiy got them off the mark with a fine headed finish from close range before Denis Cheryshev scored the first of his two strikes, displaying great composure. Artem Dzyuba was the second player to come off the bench to find the net when he headed home. In stoppage time Cheryshev scored a beauty with the outside of his left foot before Aleksandr Golovin capped off the game by curling in a free-kick.
A. Golovin
90' + 4' GOALLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!! 5-0!!!!!! GOLOVIN GETS A DESERVED GOAL!!! Russia compound Saudi Arabia's agony as the winger curls a fine strike from the free-kick. Golovin lifted his effort over the wall and it had the perfect amount of bend on it to drift inside the post before nestling into the back of the net.
Taisir Al Jassim
Yellow Card
Saudi Arabia
90' + 3' Al Jassam is booked for his challenge on Golovin.
90' + 3' Al Jassam brings down Golovin on the edge of the box. Russia will press for a fifth goal here from the resulting free-kick.
D. Cheryshev
90' + 1' GOALLLLLLLLLLLL!!!! RUSSIA HAVE FOUR!!!! CHERYSHEV SCORES A STUNNER!! The winger ends the game on the highest of notes with a screamer into the top corner. Dzyuba won the knockdown in the final third. Cheryshev collected on the edge of the box and took a touch before firing at goal with the outside of his boot. His effort flew over Al-Mayoof into the top corner of the net. A stunning goal, which caps a brilliant performance off the bench. 4-0!
A. Dzyuba
90' + 1' Dzyuba wins the ball in the air to tee up Cheryshev for his strike at goal.
90' There will be three minutes of added time.
A. Golovin
Yellow Card
88' Golovin is booked for tripping Al Faraj in the middle of the park. The first caution of the tournament.
88' Dzyuba scored just 89 seconds after coming off the bench, the quickest substitute goal at a World Cup tournament since Marcin Zewlakow scored for Poland vs USA in 2002.
87' Zhirkov sends a dangerous delivery in from the left flank, but Aseri is there to send the ball behind for a corner.
Mohanad Aseri
Mohammad Al-Sahlawi
Saudi Arabia
85' Al Sahlawi has been starved of service today and makes way for Aseri for the closing stages.
84' OVER! Kuzyaev gets carried away with himself as he goes for a strike from distance, only to blaze his attempt well over the bar from 35 yards. Not the best of efforts.
82' Bahebri wins the ball in the Russia box from Zhirkov and looks for space to fire at goal. His shot is blocked, but Al Muwallad tries to latch on to the rebound. However, the presence of Ignashevich is there to clear the danger ahead of the forward.
80' Dzyuba wins the ball in the middle of the park and raids forward down the right. However, Russia cannot create an opening as Golovin's cross towards Cheryshev is cut out.
79' Saudi Arabia have had 63.3% possession in the match, but have not had a shot on target. Proof that statistics do not always tell the story of the game.
77' Golovin swings the ball into the box from the right flank, but Gazinskiy on the charge can only direct his header wide of the post.
76' Russia continue to threaten down the right flank and they win a free-kick that Golovin will take. His deliveries have been pinpoint today.
Hattan Bahbri
Yahia Al Shehri
Saudi Arabia
74' Babhir enters the action to replace Al Shehri on the flank, who has been underwhelming today.
73' WIDE! Al Dawsari cuts in from the left flank and goes for a rasping strike from distance. He has the power, but not quite the placement as the ball flies wide of the target.
A. Golovin
71' Golovin finds room on the right flank and he digs out a cross into the middle for Dzyuba to convert.
A. Dzyuba
71' GOALLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!! 3-0!!!!!! DZYUBA MAKES IT THREE FOR THE HOST NATION!! The forward peels off the back of Omar Hawsawi in the box and guides his header into the bottom right corner. Saudi Arabia are opened up easily at the back, allowing Golovin to float a cross from the right flank towards the middle. Dzyuba makes the move to beat the attention of the Saudi defender before placing his effort past Al-Mayoof.
A. Dzyuba
F. Smolov
70' Dzyuba comes on to the pitch to replace the tired legs of Smolov. The forward has put in a good shift in the contest.
69' Saudi Arabia are still yet to record a shot on target
68' CHANCE! Kuzyaev has space for a drive at goal inside the box. Al-Mayoof makes the save, but he palms the ball out into the middle of the box. Fortunately for him, Osama Hawsawi is there to clear ahead of Smolov.
67' The tempo of the game has not been as brisk as the opening period. Both teams have been slighly sluggish with their movement and quality in the final third.
65' Cherysev breaks forward and offloads to Smolov. After his pass the winger continues his run into the middle where he latches on to Smolov's cross. He directs a header towards goal, but Al-Mayoof makes a comfortable save.
D. Kuzyaev
A. Samedov
64' Samedov has not had the best of games. He is replaced by Kuzyaev on the right flank.
Fahad Al Muwallad
Abdullah Otayf
Saudi Arabia
64' A change in approach from Saudi Arabia as Ateef is withdrawn for the attacking-minded Al Muwallad.
63' BLOCK! Cheryshev pulls off his man in the left inside channel and goes for the strike at goal, only to be denied by the legs of Al-Burayk.
62' The host nation are sitting in their shape rather than pressing out of their own half. They're not going to take any risks.
60' Russia have revealed that Dzagoev will need a scan on his hamstring injury after suffering the problem in the first half.
58' WIDE! Saudi Arabia win a free-kick on the left flank and Al Jassam lifts a decent delivery into the box. Al Faraj rises to head at goal, but he directs his effort just wide of the post.
56' CLOSE! Al-Burayk has space to lift a cross in from the right and Al Jassam flicks it on at the near post. Al Sahlawi gambles at the the back stick, but it just evades his run to trickle out for a goal-kick.
54' Samedov releases Cheryshev down the left flank, but the winger fails to pick out Smolov in the middle as Al-Mayoof comes to claim the cross.
52' OVER! Saudi Arabia give the ball away at the back and Samedov goes for glory with a strike from 25 yards, but he blazes his effort over the bar.
50' Zhirkov whips the ball in from the left from the corner, but Osama Hawsawi is there once again to rise and clear with a powerful header.
50' A long ball over the top almost has Smolov away from Osama Hawsawi, but the defender recovers to stab it behind for a corner.
48' Saudi Arabia are trying to get their foot on the ball at the start of the second half. They need to be more accurate in possession.
46' We're back underway in the Luzhniki Stadium.
Stanislav Cherchesov will be delighted with his side, while Saudi Arabia boss Juan Antonio Pizzi will be far from happy with his team's exploits in the opening 45 minutes.
Russia hold a 2-0 lead at the break against Saudi Arabia in the opening match of the 2018 World Cup. Goals from Yuri Gazinskiy and Denis Cheryshev have handed the host nation a dream start to the tournament. They've exposed Saudi Arabia at the back, first in the air as Gazinskiy rose to direct a header beyond the reach of Abdullah Al-Mayoof. The second goal came just before the break with a counter at speed before Cheryshev provided a neat finish.
45' + 1' Russia have scored with both of their shots on target.
45' There will be two minutes of added time.
D. Cheryshev
43' GOALLLLLLLLLLL!!!! CHERYSHEV DOUBLES RUSSIA'S LEAD!! 2-0! The host nation are in command of the game as Saudi Arabia are stretched at the back before Cheryshev plants a finish past Al-Mayoof. Russia broke with speed down the right before working the ball across to the left flank. Two defenders flung themselves towards the Villarreal midfielder, but he kept his composure with a neat piece of skill. Then with his left foot he fired the ball high into the net to double his side's advantage.
R. Zobnin
43' Zobnin quickly works the ball into the path of the unmarked Cheryshev, who finishes with a fine strike.
42' Cheryshev runs down the left flank and beats one challenge. However, he tries one trick too many against Omar Hawsawi and knocks the ball out for a goal-kick.
41' The tempo of the game has slowed over the past two minutes. We've been treated to an energetic first half, which appears to have taken its toll on the teams.
39' Cheryshev is the first player to appear for Russia at a World Cup while plying his trade in a foreign league since World Cup 2002.
38' Saudi Arabia are seeing more of the ball, but their passing has not been effective in the Russia half. It's leaving them vulnerable on the counter-attack.
36' PENALTY SHOUT! Smolov leads the counter and slides a pass for Golovin before being taken out. The midfielder continues the attack in the box, but Osama Hawsawi makes an inch-perfect tackle to win the ball. Golovin wanted a penalty, but the referee immediately turned down his appeal.
35' Al Dawsari has space to find a team-mate on the edge of the Russia box, but he misplaces his offload, allowing the hosts to break on the counter.
34' Smolov attempts to get the better of Osama Hawsawi down the left flank, but the defender holds firm and wins a free-kick for the Saudis.
32' Gazinskiy is the first player to score with the first shot on target at a World Cup tournament since Germany's Philipp Lahm in 2006.
31' Saudi Arabia win a free-kick on the right flank and Al Shehri lifts the ball into the box. Al Shahrani rises to head at goal, but his attempt sails harmlessly over.
30' Russia probe down the left, but on this occasion Golovin moves too soon and is caught offside. The officials have been told to give the benefit of the doubt to the attacking side, but that decision was clear.
28' OVER! Al Dawsari collects 30 yards from goal and goes for the spectacular shot from distance, only to hammer his effort well over the bar.
27' The tempo of the game has dropped since Dzagoev's injury. It gives Saudi Arabia time to find their rhythm after their slow start to the contest.
25' Dzagoev was pulling the strings for Russia in the middle of the park. His loss could have a huge impact on the outcome of the game.
D. Cheryshev
A. Dzagoev
24' Cheryshev comes on to replace the injured Dzagoev. Cherysev has talent, but was left out of the starting line-up. Can he make an impression here?
22' Oh dear. Dzagoev is down in a heap clutching his hamstring. He went down off the ball and remained on the ground. It does not look good for the midfielder.
21' WIDE! Al Shahrani leads a counter for Saudi Arabia and he breaks into a promising position. Al Sahlawi puts Kutepov under pressure and forces the defender to put the ball wide of the post.
20' Zhirkov presses down the left flank and combines with Golovin to open up the Saudi Arabia defence. He sends a low ball into the box, but Samedov cannot connect.
19' Omar Hawsawi gives the ball away in the middle of the park and it allows Samedov to break down the right. Fortunately for the Saudis, the midfielder's low pass evades the runs of Smolov through the middle.
17' The tempo of the game has caught Saudi Arabia out at the back. They need to put their foot on the ball and play the match at their own pace.
15' Russia have found their feet and are exerting serious pressure on the Saudi backline.
14' SAVE! Russia break forward down the right as Dzagoev releases Fernandes down the right flank. He cuts the ball back for Smolov in the middle. His effort deflects off Omar Hawsawi and still forces Al-Mayoof into the stop. Fernandes was offside when he crossed the ball so if Smolov had scored it would have been brought back on VAR.
A. Golovin
12' Golovin is afforded space and time to float a cross to the back post for Gazinskiy to head home.
Y. Gazinskiy
12' GOALLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!! 1-0!!!! GAZINSKIY PUTS RUSSIA AHEAD! We have the first goal at the 2018 World Cup as Gazinskiy directs his header beyond the reach of Al-Mayoof. Saudi Arabia failed to clear the corner from the home side. Golovin directed a cross to the back post for Gazinskiy to rise above his man and place his header into the bottom corner. A fine finish from the midfielder.
11' BLOCK! Samedov forces the ball into the feet of Smolov in the box. He goes for the strike, but Osama Hawsawi is there to deflect his effort wide of the post.
10' Zhirkov's corner is poor and it allows Saudi Arabia to break on the counter. Al Shehri chases the ball to the corner, but Golovin on the slide wins a throw-in for his team.
9' Golovin and Zhirkov provide pressure down the left flank. Golovin's cross is blocked, but the latter's is deflected behind for a corner.
8' Mario Fernandes was active in that surge down the right for the home side. Expect him to continue to be a presence down the flank.
7' Osama Hawsawi makes a vital tackle at the near post after Samedov had cut the ball back for Smolov in the box. The Saudi skipper was in the right place at the right time to make the covering challenge.
6' There are a few nervy touches in the opening stages of the game. Both sets of players are looking tentative with the ball at their feet.
5' Al Sahlawi collects in a decent position for the Saudis, but he turns away from goal with four Russia defenders back on the edge of the box.
4' A scrappy start to the game as both sides are trying to build a passing game, although control has been an issue in the early stages.
2' Dzagoev goes on the surge in the right inside channel, but he gets crowded out before he can force the ball across the face of goal.
2' Samedov wins an early free-kick for the hosts down the right flank. Russia opt to keep the ball on the ground rather than send a delivery into the box.
1' The 2018 World Cup is underway.
It is a great atmosphere in Moscow, the tournament is finally here!
Last fact before kick-off. Saudi Arabia have also never won their opening game at the World Cup. Can Russia get off on the front foot? Let's find out.
In the only previous meeting between Russia and Saudi Arabia, the Saudis claimed a 4-2 win on home soil in October 1993.
The speeches are over. Now it's time for the national anthems.
Russian president Vladimir Putin will now officially open the tournament.
The teams are out on the pitch. It's almost time for action.
Al Sahlawi scored 16 goals for the Green Falcons during qualifying for the tournament, which made him the joint top-scorer in the process alongside Robert Lewandowski. The forward will have his sights set on Russia's makeshift defence and aiming to kickstart his tournament with a strong outing.
Ignashevich faces a daunting prospect today after being hauled out of retirement to start in the middle of the defence. Ruslan Kambolov's injury has paved the way for the 38-year-old to return and alongside Kutepov, he has to provide the leadership and strength at the back to be the anchor of his team.
Back to the match at hand. Saudi Arabia are entering the tournament off the back of three-straight defeats. However, their last encounter against Germany will offer hope as they matched the world champions for large portions of the game. They lost the contest 2-1, with Taisir Al Jassam netting a late goal to send German nerves jangling.
Brazil legend Ronaldo is getting into the mix now. He's not blasting out a beat with Robbie, but he's here and dressed to the nines.
As we prepare for kick-off in the Luzhniki Stadium, we are experiencing the greatest hits of Robbie Williams performed by the man himself on a giant football in the middle of the pitch. Nice.
Russia are not in good form heading into the tournament. They are winless in their last seven matches, including a defeat to Austria and a draw against Turkey in their warm-up matches. It will take a special effort from Cherchesov's men to rise to the occasion.
The pressure is on the hosts to get off to a good start to the tournament. No host nation has lost their opening game in the history of the tournament. As a result, the eyes of Russia will be on Stanislav Cherchesov and his team to pull off a fine performance to defeat Saudi Arabia this afternoon.
Saudi Arabia subs: Mansour Al-Harbi, Ali Albulayhi, Hattan Bahebri, Abdulmalek Al-Khaibri, Mohammed Kanno, Abdullah Al Khaibari, Hussain Al-Mogahwi, Fahad Al Muwallad, Mohannad Aseri, Yasser Al-Mosailem, Mohammed Al Owais, Motaz Hawsawi.
Saudi Arabia (4-1-4-1): Abdullah Al-Mayoof; Mohammed Al-Burayk, Osama Hawsawi, Omar Hawsawi, Yasir Al-Shahrani; Abdullah Ateef; Salem Al Dawsari, Salman Al Faraj, Taiseer Al Jassam, Yahya Al-Shehri; Mohammed Al Sahlawi.
Russia subs: Andrey Semenov, Denis Cheryshev, Daler Kuzyaev, Andrey Lunev, Fedor Kudryashov, Vladimir Granat, Aleksey Miranchuk, Anton Miranchuk, Vladimir Gabulov, Aleksandr Erokhin, Artem Dzyuba, Igor Smolnikov.
Russia (4-2-3-1): Igor Akinfeev; Mario Fernandes, Ilya Kutepov, Sergei Ignashevich, Yuri Zhirkov; Yuri Gazinskiy, Roman Zobnin; Aleksandr Samedov, Alan Dzagoev, Aleksandr Golovin; Fedor Smolov.
We will bring you the line-ups as soon as we have them.
Finally, the festival of football is here. We've got 64 games, 32 teams...but there can be only one winner. And the action starts today!!
Hello and welcome to live text commentary of the Group A match between Russia and Saudi Arabia at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The scene is set for the tournament opener!