What happened overnight?

Russia opened their campaign in emphatic fashion, thrashing

in front of 78-thousand enraptured fans at Moscow's Luzhniki Arena.

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.


Introduced after just 24 minutes from the bench, Russian striker Denis Cheryshev scored two outstanding goals.

First he jinked around three hapless defenders to fire Russia's second into the roof of the net, before producing an early contender for goal of the tournament, curling a sublime left-footed strike into the top corner in the first minute of injury time.

Cheryshev has lived in Spain since he was five and the Villarreal man stamped his mark on the tournament in little over an hour.


Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the tournament by welcoming fans to 'open, hospitable and friendly' Russia. Righto.

Casualty ward
Alan Dzagoev has been Russia's most exciting creative force of the past decade, having become its youngest ever outfield player in 2008. He lasted just 24 minutes of the opening game, limping off with a hamstring injury which may have tragically ended his tournament.

They said what?
"I would like to underscore that we are grateful to our squad with how they fulfilled our goals, how they played in a relaxed game under the pressure stemming from this being an opening match."
Russian coach Stanislav Cherchesov

Stat chat
Cheryshev became the first substitute to score in an opening World Cup game, while team-mate Artem Dzyuba did the same, heading home Russia's third just 90 seconds after coming on in the second half.

Saudi Arabia had 60 percent of possession and played nearly twice as many passes as their hosts, but were still blown away on opening day.

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

Group B is underway at 3am when Morocco, fresh from missing out on hosting rights to the 2026 tournament and appearing at a World Cup for the first time since 1998, meet Iran, who are looking to progress to the knockout rounds for the first time ever.

Then at 6am, it's potentially the best group game of the entire tournament, when European powerhouses Spain and Portugal do battle in a mouth-watering breakfast-time clash.

Tune in to Jason Pine weekday mornings from 9 on Radio Sport, for all the latest from the FIFA World Cup.