Russia lead Saudi Arabia in World Cup opener

Source: Xinhua| 2018-06-15 00:42:58|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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MOSCOW, June 14 (Xinhua) -- Iury Gazinsky and substitute Denis Cheryshev scored first-half goals and Artem Dzyuba was on target in the second half as Russia took a 3-0 lead over Saudi Arabia in their opening World Cup Group A match here on Thursday.

It took just 12 minutes for the hosts to open the scoring at the Luzhniki Stadium as Aleksandr Golovin's lofted cross found an unmarked Gazinsky, who headed past Abdullah Almuaiouf.

Fedor Smolov almost doubled Russia's lead minutes later when his scuffed shot forced a finger-tip save from Almuaiouf.

Russia suffered a blow in the 24th minute when midfielder Alan Dzagoev was forced off after a heavy knock and replaced by Cheryshev.

The hosts continued to dominate possession and on the few occasions that Saudi Arabia advanced beyond the halfway line they were quickly closed down.

Cheryshev, who was causing trouble for right-back Mohammed Alburayk, made it 2-0 on the stroke of halftime. The Villarreal winger ran onto a pass from Roman Zobnin before showing fancy footwork and thumping a shot past the Saudi goalkeeper.

In the 71st minute, Dzyuba came off the bench to score Russia's third goal.

Russia are competing in their 11th World Cup, having automatically qualified for this tournament as hosts. Their last victory in football's showpiece event was a 2-0 win over Tunisia in Japan 16 years ago.

Saudi Arabia are competing at their fifth World Cup and their first since 2006. Their victory drought in the competition stretches back to 1994, when they won two group matches in the United States before being eliminated in the round of 16.