World Cup: Russia v Saudi Arabia

It's the opening game of the 2018 World Cup where the hosts meet Saudi Arabia in Moscow

Patrick Madden Thu, Jun 14
 
LIVE: World Cup: Russia v Saudi Arabia

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  • 14:59

    Good afternoon!

    Welcome to our coverage of the opening game of the 2018 World Cup, between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia (kick-off 4.0pm).

    The greatest sporting event on the planet is finally back, the soundtrack to a summer is about to start playing.

    Nothing chronicles time as well as sport - and no sporting event chronicles time better than the World Cup.

    As it comes around every four years, chances are it will often become entwined with a significant part of your life.

    Tournaments become staging posts. Argentina '78 might remind you of an endless summer as a child. France '98 brings you back to the grind (or not) of exams as a student. Maybe you cried more tears than Gazza during Italia '90 because of your first break-up, or you had to juggle your first job with early kick-off times during South Korea and Japan in 2002.

    And here we are again, on the brink of another tournament, ready to be hooked in by the magic once more.

    In 20 years time it's doubtful we'll look back and remember where we were when Russia and Saudi Arabia - the tournament's two lowest ranking sides - clashed in Moscow. But you can guarantee whenever you think back to the summer of 2018, you'll think of the World Cup.

    We'll be bringing you all of the action from Russia across the next month – here’s to a good one.

    Come on!!!

  • 15:03

    That said, I think we'll all remember where we were when ROBBIE WILLIAMS performed in the World Cup opening ceremony, in Moscow.  

    Personally I hope he plays the classics but he's missed an open goal if he doesn't drop his 2016 banger 'Party like a Russian.' It's no Angels.

  • 15:10

    If there's anything you want to know about this summer's tournament, be it venues, teams, fixtures, statistics - as well as quality writing from our reporters on the ground in Russia - then you can find it all on our dedicated, comprehensive World Cup website.

    You can see that by clicking HERE.

  • 15:16

    Who do you think is going to win the World Cup? Any tips for top scorer? Who are you supporting in Ireland's absence? Where will you be watching from?

    Get in touch today and throughout the tournament and let us know!

  • 15:16
  • 15:18

    Russia might be the lowest ranked team in the tournament (70th) but as history tells us, it's a tricky place to go and get a result.

    Here's an added good omen for the hosts. . .

  • 15:18
  • 15:21
    40 mins until kick-off!
  • 15:23
  • 15:27

    Ahead of the opener, we have produced guides to every team in the tournament. Get to know hosts Russia a bit better here, and get intimate with the Saudis here.  

    We've also picked out 32 players to watch out for this summer, which you can see HERE. Aleksandr Golovin starts for Russia, however Fahad Al-Muwallad has to settle for a place on the bench.

  • 15:31
    Eamon Dunphy can't envisage this tournament "being anything other than a trainwreck" for hosts Russia. A vote of confidence.
  • 15:34

    The opening ceremony is underway! Robbie kicks off with Let Me Entertain You.  

    I hope Russia and Saudi Arabia are taking note.

  • 15:41

    Robbie then throws himself into Feel and Angels. And here comes Rock DJ!

    Can you kick it? Yes you can!

  • 15:42
  • 15:47

    Russia boss Stanislav Cherchesov appears to have gone for a 4-4-1-1 in the opener, with Alan Dzagoev playing in the hole in behind Fyodor Smolov. 38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich is set to make his 124th international appearance.

    Opposite number  Juan Antonio Pizzi - one of six Argentine coaches at the World Cup - has packed the midfield with  Mohammad Al-Sahlawi leading the line.

  • 15:49

    A reminder of the teams:

    Russia: Akinfeev (c), Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov, Zobnin, Gazinsky, Golovin, Samedov, Smolov, Dzagoev. Subs: Lunev, Semenov, Cheryshev, Kuzyaev, Kudryashov, Granat, Aleksey Miranchuk, Anton Miranchuk, Erokhin, Dzyuba, Smolnikov, Gabulov.

    Saudi Arabia: Al-Muaiouf, Al-Breik, Osama Hawsawi, Omar Hawsawi, Al-Shahrani, Al-Jassam, Otayf, Al Dawsari, Al-Shehri, Al-Faraj, Al-Sahlawi. Subs: Al-Mosailem, Al-Harbi, Al Bulaihi, Bahbir, Al-Khaibri, Kanno, Al-Khaibari, Al-Moqahwi, Al-Muwallad, Asiri, Motaz Hawsawi, Al-Owais.

    Referee: Pitana Nestor (Argentina)

  • 15:49
    The teams are in the tunnel in Moscow!
  • 15:54

    Putin addresses the crowd before kick-off.

    "Football brings us together... mutual understanding... unity... power of football... new beginnings... unforgettable experience... welcome to Russia..."

    BINGO!

  • 15:57
    Naturally, the Irish Times website has decided to crash five minutes before the opening game of the World Cup. Hopefully these updates reach you eventually.
  • 16:00
    And we're back! Stirring rendition of 'National anthem of Russia'.
  • 16:02

    Saudi Arabia to kick us off, playing from left to right.

    BEEEEEEEEEEEP!

  • 16:03
    1 min: Early pressure down the left from Sudi Arabia, moving the ball sharply up to the edge of the Russian box. It's short-lived and Samedov gets ahe adof his man on the right before being hacked down.
  • 16:04
    2 min: First glimpse for Russia as the ball breaks for Dzagoev in the Saudi box - he's well marshalled though. Frantic start.
  • 16:05
    3 min: First corner of the game for Russia from the left. Khirkov's delivery is headed away at the near post.
  • 16:08
    5 min: Good spell of possession for the Saudi's on the fringes of the Russian final third. Short, one-touch passing but they run out of space and are forced back - where 'keeper Abdullah dashes off his line and nearly gives the ball away while in no man's land. He survives.
  • 16:09
    7 min: First glimpse of Golovin, breaking up the play deep and carrying before releasing Zhirkov down the left. Nice play from the hosts, and when the ball is cut back from the right byline Saudi skipper Osama makes a vital block ahead of Dzagoev.
  • 16:11

    9 min: The ball is pumped long for Dzagoev who nods it down to Golovin. He works it onto his left and sees his cross blocked.

    Russia corner on the left - Khirkov's delivery is far too deep and Saudi Arabia break.

  • 16:11
    10 MIN: RUSSIA 0 SAUDI ARABIA 0
  • 16:12
    11 min: Russia happy to sit and allow Saudi Arabia possession but look dangerous on the break. The hosts seem to have the physical upper hand as well.
  • 16:13
    12 min: The ball is threaded into Dzagoev in the box and his tame first time shot is deflected for a corner.
  • 16:14

    GOOOAAAAALLLLL!!!!!!!!!!


    RUSSIA 1 SAUDI ARABIA 0 (GAZINSKIY 13 MIN)

  • 16:16

    That physical dominance shows again. The corner is headed away as far as Golovin, who turns onto is right and curls the ball towards the back post, where an unmarked Gazinsky steers his header back across goal and into the far corner. Perfect start for the hosts.

    14 MIN: RUSSIA 1 SAUDI ARABIA 0

  • 16:18

    15 min: Russia nearly double their lead straight away. They're well on top.   Samedov - who is a mile offside - cuts the ball back from the byline. Smolov's shot is blocked and loops towards the top corner where Abdullah claws it away. Not sure how the lino didn't spot that.

    We have, of course, got VAR today - but only for major incidents.

  • 16:21
    19 min: Things have settled down since the goal. Possession for the Saudi's but Russia are tucking in and look comfortable.
  • 16:21
    20 MIN: RUSSIA 1 SAUDI ARABIA 0
  • 16:23
    21 min: Break for Saudi Arabia down the left and the ball is crossed towards  Alsahlawi on the penalty spot. He puts the pressure on his man Kutepov who slips and nearly diverts the ball into his own goal. The first Saudi corner is headed away but they earn another, which is easily dealt with.
  • 16:26

    22 min: Russia break, but play is stopped for an injury to number nine Dzagoev - looks like his hammy has gone.

    His afternoon - and potentially World Cup - is over. Vilarreal's  Denis Cheryshev comes on.

  • 16:28

    25 min: There's an obvious theme here - Russia allowing Saudi Arabia plenty of the ball then turning the screw and winning it back in their final third.

    New man Cheryshev wins the ball at left back and goes on a lung-busting solo run but is hopelessly isolated. He'll be ready to come off again after that.

  • 16:29
    28 min: First effort in anger for Saudi Arabia from Salem, who hooks it miles over the bar from 25-yards.
  • 16:32

    29 min: Without wanting to sound ungrateful it's beginning to dawn that the standard here is pretty poor. Khirkov brings down Taiseer on the right, the Saudi number 17 earning a free-kick thanks to a theatrical tumble.

    Salman curls it in with his left but Yasser's header at the near post is well over.

  • 16:32
    30 MIN: RUSSIA 1 SAUDI ARABIA 0
  • 16:36
    34 min: Smolov tries to stand Osama  Al-Muwallad in the Saudi box but the opposition skipper stands him up well.  
  • 16:38
    35 min: Most of the quality so far has come from Golovin. Russia break again and he carries it up to the edge, trying a stepover before going down under the challenge of Osama. Never a penalty, and his claims are rightly waved away.
  • 16:40
    38 min: A glimpse for Saudi Arabia in the Russian final third but they move the ball too slowly and are quickly smothered. They look neat but toothless.
  • 16:41
    39 min: Golovin looks to slide in Smolov but massively overcooks the pass.
  • 16:41
    40 MIN: RUSSIA 1 SAUDI ARABIA 0
  • 16:44
    41 min: Russia captain Akinfeev screws a first time clearance out on the halfway line under no pressure, which sums up this first half. A glimpse for Russia on the left as Cheryshev jinks right and left inside the box but it bobbles out for a goal kick.
  • 16:44

    GOOOOAAAALLLLLL!!!!!

    RUSSIA 2 SAUDI ARABIA 0 (CHERYSHEV 42 MIN)

  • 16:47

    Another Russia breakaway. Golovin slips it back inside to Smolov who tries to play in Cheryshev first time. The pass is undercooked but the substitute shows great tenacity to force his way back inside and thump it into the roof of the net. Pretty calamitous defending from the Saudis - two of them slid in to challenge Cheryshev and both were left looking on as he doubled the lead.

    44 MIN: RUSSIA 2 SAUDI ARABIA 0

  • 16:47
    46 min: I reckon Ireland would give this Saudi Arabia side a going over.
  • 16:48
    HT: RUSSIA 2 SAUDI ARABIA 0
  • 16:56
    Think I've done Cheryshev a disservice there, it was a cracking touch back inside to make room for the shot. Doesn't excuse the defending, though.
  • 17:01
  • 17:04
    The teams are back out for the second half!
  • 17:05

    Russia to get us back underway.

    BEEEEEEP!

  • 17:06
    46 min: Saudi Arabia looking for a bright start and Salem jinks inside from the right, bursting into space, before playing his pass straight to a red shirt.
  • 17:08
    47 min: Saudi Arabia seeing plenty of the ball but they're very deep. Russia content to sit.
  • 17:10
    49 min: Khirkov with a searching ball for Smolov who gets goal side but doesn't have the pace and is well tackled. Russian corner from the left, Osama heads clear.
  • 17:10
    50 MIN: RUSSIA 2 SAUDI ARABIA 0
  • 17:12
    51 min: Bit of Russian pressure, neat play from Golovin who drops it off but the return pass is just beyond him. Saudi Arabia can't get out though and the ball drops to Samedov, who fizzes an effort over on the angle.
  • 17:13
  • 17:14
    King Sergio gives his seal of approval to his new gaffer Fernando Hierro.
  • 17:17
    55 min: Sustained spell of possession for Saudi Arabia and they craft their first genuine chance of the match. Stunning ball in from the right from Salman but Taiseer can't divert it home at the near post. He went with his left foot and it flashed beyond Alsahlawi and out. A warning for Russia.
  • 17:18
    58 min: Free kick for Saudi Arabia on the left - good chance to get the ball into the box. Taiseer whips it in and Salman heads well over - there was a flag up anyhow.
  • 17:20
    60 MIN: RUSSIA 2 SAUDI ARABIA 0
  • 17:26

    63 min: Not a huge amount happening. Saudi Arabia possession interrupted by sporadic niggly fouls.

    First change for the Saudis, Fahad Al-Muwallad coming on. He's dubbed the Saudi Messi.  Daler Kuzyayev replaces Samedov for Russia.

  • 17:29
    68 min: Nearly a third for Russia. Zobnin drives forward and drills a low shot which Abdullah fumbles. Osama is there to clear the danger before Russia can react to the rebound. Saudi on the ropes a bit here but it's all stemming from their own mistakes.
  • 17:29
    70 MIN: RUSSIA 2 SAUDI ARABIA 0
  • 17:30
    70 min: Final change for Russia, Artem Dzyuba on for Smolov.
  • 17:31

    GOOAAAALLLLLL!!!!!

    RUSSIA 3 SAUDI ARABIA 0 (DZYUBA 71 MIN)

  • 17:33

    The substitute makes an instant impact. Neat play from Russia and Golovin picks it up in the inside right channel. He looks up and picks out new man Dzyuba who towers above his man and heads back into the far corner. Good goal, and game over.

    73 MIN: RUSSIA 3 SAUDI ARABIA 0

  • 17:36
    75 min: The Saudi FA did a deal with La Liga earlier this year which saw a number of their players loaned to Spanish clubs in order to get some exposure in Europe. It hasn't worked so far - they've been bullied here.
  • 17:40
    78 min: Saudi Arabia continue to knock the ball about but they know their goose is cooked. Russia should go for the throat and get their goal difference up - could prove crucial.
  • 17:40
    80 MIN: RUSSIA 3 SAUDI ARABIA 0
  • 17:42
    82 min: Good harrying from Salman on the right who wins the ball back and works it onto his left, but the veteran Ignashevich blocks his low shot comfortably.
  • 17:42
  • 17:44
    84 min:  Kuzyayev tries one from distance and it nearly flies out of the ground.
  • 17:47
    85 min: Hatan fouls Zhirkov on the left. Zhirkov whips it in and Gazinskiy is lurking at the backpost, but Muhannad gets a vital touch to send it behind for a corner, which is easily defended.
  • 17:48
    88 min: First yellow of the game for Golovin for a stupid tug deep in the Saudi Arabia half. Could come back to bite him.
  • 17:50
    89 min: A Russian move down the right looks to have broken down when the ball is squared to Saudi centre-half Omar in the box, but his first touch is abysmal and gifts the hosts a corner. Which is cleared.
  • 17:50

    90 MIN: RUSSIA 3 SAUDI ARABIA 0

    Three minutes of injury time.

  • 17:51

    GOOOAAALLLLLLL!!!!!!

    RUSSIA 4 SAUDI ARABIA 0 (CHERYSHEV 91 MIN)

  • 17:53

    What a goal. Long ball to Dzyuba who nods it down to Cheryshev. He takes a touch and then shoots with the outside of his left boot, curling it into the top right corner. Strike.

    93 MIN: RUSSIA 4 SAUDI ARABIA 0

  • 17:54

    93 min: Foul from Taiseer on Golovin on the edge of the Saudi box and he's shown a yellow.

    Golovin over the free-kick - remember he scored a stunner against Arsenal in last season's Europa League.

  • 17:54

    GOOOAAAALLLLL!!!!

    RUSSIA 5 SAUDI ARABIA 0 (GOLOVIN 93 MIN)

  • 17:55

    Easy as you like, Golovin lifts the ball over the wall and in at the near post. Lovely goal.

    FT: RUSSIA 5 SAUDI ARABIA 0

  • 17:56
  • 17:57

    So the question is - are Russia really good, or are Saudi Arabia really really pants?

    I'm leaning towards the latter.

  • 18:08

    Righ, thanks for joining for today's opener. Greater delights lie in store - but at least we're up and running.

    I'll be back tomorrow as Uruguay take on Egypt.  

    Cya!