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Rampant Russia make record-breaking start at home World Cup

23:36 GMT+3 19/06/2018
Artem Dzyuba Russia Egypt World Cup 190618
The hosts were given little chance heading into a global showpiece, but they have burst out of the blocks quicker than any side in history

Russia’s remarkable efforts in their opening two games at a home World Cup have seen them set a new tournament record for flying starts.

Having been given little chance heading into the tournament, as the lowest-ranked side in the competition, the hosts have made a mockery of that doom-mongering.

They were given a helping hand in their opening encounter, with Saudi Arabia folding badly under pressure as Russian president Vladimir Putin watched on from the stands.

Five goals without reply got the home side off to the perfect start, with the mood of a nation and the belief within an experienced squad lifted by a dominant display.

Already perched at the top of Group A on the back of that performance, the Russians produced more of the same when presented with the challenge of seeing off Egypt and Mohamed Salah.

It did take an own goal from Ahmed Fathy to break the deadlock in St Petersburg, but two more efforts had been added by the 62nd minute and the final result was beyond doubt.

Salah pulled one back from the spot for Egypt, but Russia held on for a 3-1 win which means that they have collected six points from their opening two games while finding the target eight times.

No side in World Cup history can claim to have bettered that record.

Italy, back in 1934, also opened their campaign with eight goals in two games, but they conceded twice and were held in their second outing by Spain.

France, meanwhile, also boasted a goal difference of plus seven after two games in 1998, but that was the collective tally of their efforts – with two clean sheets secured.

Russia will be delighted to be following in the footsteps of former champions, with their recent World Cup history having offered little to suggest that such form was on the cards.

Stanislav Cherchesov’s side now have one foot in the last-16 and will feel that anything can happen from there, with their goal tally already equal to that of a Spain side which went all the way in 2010.

Russia do still have one more Group A outing to take in before attention turns to knockout football, with Uruguay next up for them on Monday.