MOSCOW, Russia — Denis Cheryshev scored a brace and hosts Russia easily hammered Saudi Arabia 5-0 to open their World Cup Group A campaign here at Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday.
The game also saw 38-year-old defender Sergei Ignashevich coming out of a long retirement from international football to start at centre-back.
Yuri Gazinskiy, Artem Dzyuba and Aleksandr Golovin were also on target for Russia who had not won a competitive game in eight months, which ended a seven-game winless run.
Against the run of play, the Russians grabbed the lead in the 12th minute when Gazinskiy headed home a cross from Alexander Golovin before substitute Cheryshev skillfully chipped the ball over two Saudi Arabian defenders and then fired it home past goalkeeper Abdullah Al Muaiouf from close range in the 43rd minute.
Dzyuba made it 3-0 in the 71st minute – making an instant impact off the bench – before Golovin and Cheryshev, who bagged his second with a well-taken free kick, completed the scoring in time added on.
While Saudi Arabia’s struggles at World Cup tournaments continued, the Russians were finally grabbing a win in the tournament for the first time since 2002.
Goal Scores – All Russia
Yuri Gazinskiy 12′
Denis Cheryshev 43′
Artem Dzyuba 71′
Aleksandr Golovin 90′
Denis Cheryshev 90′