The stage is set for the opening match of the 2018 World Cup as hosts Russia take on Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Russia come into their own tournament as the lowest-ranked team and without a win in seven matches and are looking to reach the knockout rounds for the first time since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, are just three places above Russia in the FIFA rankings and have lost their last three matches in the buildup to the biggest stage in football.
No hosts have ever lost the opening game of the tournament but the Saudis beat Russia 4-2 in their last meeting
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Kick off is 4 p.m.
SAUDI ARABIA STARTING XI: Al-Maiouf; Alburayk, Os.Hawsawi, Om. Hawsawi, Al-Shahrani; Otayf, Al-Dawsari, Al-Faraj, Al-Jassam; Al-Shehri, Al-Sahlawi
RUSSIA STARTING XI: Akinfeev; Mario Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov; Gazinskiy, Zobnin, Dzagoev, Samedov, Golovin; Smolov
Scorers of FIFA World Cup opening goals from 1990-2014
1990 – Biyik – Cameroon
1994 – Klinsmann – Germany
1998 – Sampaio – Brazil
2002 – Diop – Senegal
2006 – Lahm – Germany
2010 – Tshabalala – South Africa
2014 – Marcelo (own goal) – Brazil
British Singer; Robbie Willams gets the opening ceremony on with an electric performance #RUSKSA
Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the fans at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
The Russian President gets a thunderous from the capacity crowd as he ends his short address
The FIFA President takes to the podium to also make is opening remarks
Now time for action after the speeches… the Saudi Arabia national anthem rendered and then that of Russia
The first throwing of the World Cup goes to Saudi Arabia
Russia gets the first corner kick but dealt with nicely by the Saudi defense
Fedor Smolov is penalised for pushing Mohammed Al Buray
Saudi Arabia probing the Russian defense, they make an appeal for a foul.. but waved away by the referee
Russia get a throw-in near the Saudi box
So far, Saudi Arabia have enjoyed better possession 64% compared to Russia’s 36%
GOALLLL: Russia in front
Yuri Gazinski with the opening goal of the World Cup and for Russia
CHANCE!!! Russia almost get a second but the Saudi keeper makes a crucial save
Free kick to Saudi Arabia as Mohammed Al Burayk is down injured and receives medical treatment on the field.
The game is restarted
Russia launching more of the attack from the right side of the Saudi defense
Corner kick for Saudi after they are denied by the Russian defence
Injury blow for Russia
Fear hamstring injury for Alan Dzagoev
Russia makes a forced substitution as Alan Dzagoev is pulled off for Denis Cheryshev.
The host still have a lone goal advantage
Ball possession: Russia: 53%, Saudi Arabia: 47%.
Russia’ Aleksandr Golovin goes down in the box but referee says no penalty
GOALLLL.. Russia double their advantage
Denis Cheryshev with the goal!
Roman Zobnin provided the assist for the goal.
Two minutes added time
HALFTIME: Russia 2-0 Saudi Arabia
Maiden goals by Yuri Gazinskiy and Denis Cheryshev give the hosts a dream start
second half back underway
No side has ever come back from two goals down to win an opening match of the World Cup so the Saudis have a mountain to climb here in Moscow
CLOSE!! Saudi Arabia with their best chance so far but could not bury the ball in the net
SUB by Russia: Aleksandr Samedov leaves the field, replaced by Daler Kuzyaev
SUB by Saudi Arabia: Abdullah Otayf is off and replaced by Fahad Al-Muwallad
It’s been Russia all the way and they almost get a third but brave goalkeeping by the Saudi goalkeeper denies the hosts a third goal
GOALLLL: Russia makes it three
Artem Dzyuba makes an instant impact or the host after coming in barely two minutes ago
Dzyuba has set the record of being the first player ever to come off the bench and score in the opening match of the World Cup
It has been a ‘clean’ game so far… No bookings so far for both teams
Daler Kuzyaev goes for goal, but his effort was never close to hitting the targett
Quite surprising Ball possession: Russia: 39%, Saudi Arabia: 61%
Finally, the first booking goes to Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin… The last time an opening day World Cup match failed to record any booking was almost 40 years ago!
GOALLL: Russia get one more in !!!
Denis Cheryshev with the goal!
ANOTHER GOAL: Russia make it five with a sumptuous free kick
Final Score Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia
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