A Russian, appropriate for the occasion, Yuri Gazinsky, scored the first goal of Russia 2018 with a firm header past Saudi Arabia goalkeeper. The 28-year-old FK Krasnodar central midfielder got above his marker and powered a header past Abdullah Al-Mayoof on 12 minutes. The Russians would go on to score another four, making it the biggest opening day goals tally since 1934.
First goal from a substitute
This also came in the opening match from Denis Cheryshev, who plays for Villarreal, and had replaced the injured Alan Dzagoev. The left-footed player left two Saudi defenders on the deck before rifling a shot into the top right corner of Al-Mayoof’s post in the 43rd minute. Only two players have scored as a substitute in the opening match of a World Cup.
This accolade also goes to Denis Cheryshev who scored twice against Saudi Arabia in the opening match – both left-footed beauties. The first, he left two Saudi defenders gasping before belting in a screamer and the second with the outside of his left foot left the Saudi goalkeeper grasping at thin air.
Cristiano Ronaldo announced his presence in Russia with a complete performance and three goals against Spain in their opening Group B match. The first was from the penalty spot, the second a gift from David de Gea and the third, a majestic free kick on the dot of full time.
First free-kick goal
Ronaldo also takes the prize for this one as his 89th-minute free-kick secured a share of the points for Portugal in that enthralling match. The kick, which had David De Gea rooted, was struck with power, verve, swerve and dip – it could not have been struck much better with the added consequence of time and occasion.
First yellow card
Another Russian, Aleksandr Golovin, was shown the first yellow card in the 88th minute of the opening day encounter against Saudi Arabia. Golovin went on to score his side’s fifth goal in the fourth minute of additional time.
First VAR decision
France were being throttled by Australia until the 57th minute when a goal-bound Antoine Griezmann was brought down by Josh Rishdon. The referee, Andres Cunha, from Argentina initially waved play on but after consultation with the VAR officials and personal viewing, awarded a penalty to France, taken and scored by Griezmann.
First Goal Line Technology [GLT] decision
Also in the France versus Australia encounter, Paul Pogba’s deflected effort off the underside of the crossbar was given as a goal when the watch on Andres Cunha’s wrist beeped to indicate the whole ball had crossed the line.
First own goal
Unfortunate, but Morocco’s Aziz Bouhaddouz handed all three points to Iran with a headed own goal in the 90th minute of their encounter. That has been added to by another African country, Nigeria, as Oghenekaro Etebo unwittingly diverted Mario Mandzukic’s wayward header past his goalkeeper for Croatia’s first goal.
First shock result
Iceland held a Lionel Messi-led Argentina to a 1-1 result. Argentina scored first through Sergio Aguero and it was expected to be plain sailing afterward but the Euro 2016 surprise package were back on level terms through Alfred Finnbogason four minutes later. Messi then confirmed the result with a saved penalty in the second half. Mexico followed that with a 1-0 win over defending champions Germany, and Switzerland held strong favourites, Brazil, to a 1-1 result.