Russian Federation 5 Saudi Arabia 0

Russian Federation 5 Saudi Arabia 0

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the FIFA World Cup open after a colourful opening ceremony at the 81,000-seater Luzhniki Stadium here on Thursday.

Substitute Denis Cheryshev scored twice - the first after a piece of skill that would have graced a Lionel Messi highlights reel - and the second a superb shot in stoppage time.

- Russia's victory means that the host nation has never lost their opening match in any of the 21 editions of the World Cup (W16 D6 L0).

After an opening ceremony which included British pop icon Robbie Williams, it took just 12 minutes for the tournament's first goal, with Gazinsky opening his worldwide account with a well-taken header across goal.

Russian Federation made it 3-0 in the 71st minute when Golovin chipped in a cross for giant striker Dzyuba to rise unchallenged to head in from close range.

Less than a minute remaining in the first half it was Cheryshev to up the score, shooting the ball into the upper left of the Saudi Arabian net to leave 2-0 displayed on the stadium's huge digital screens as both teams retreated for the 15-minute break.

Putin told the 80,000-strong crowd at the Luzhniki Stadium before the match kicked off: "I congratulate all of you at the start of the most important championship in the world".

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Putin smiled several times as he watched the game in a VIP box with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Russian Federation started on top in Moscow, but the goal came from the first effort on target of the match.

Williams dueted his hit single "Angels" alongside Russian opera singer Aida Garifullina, with former Brazil striker Ronaldo also taking part in the ceremony.

Creative fulcrum Alan Dzagoev, who has often suffered misfortune around big tournaments, had to go off after just 20 minutes with a suspected hamstring injury, to be replaced by Villareal's Denis Cheryshev.

The Green Falcons earned their first World Cup berth since 2006 by going undefeated during AFC World Cup qualifying, but have stumbled through pre-tournament friendly action, going 3-1-5 including losses in their past three games to Italy, Peru, and Germany.

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 other Group A teams Uruguay and Egypt meet Friday in Yekaterinburg.

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