Russia vs Saudi Arabia LIVE: World Cup 2018 opening match and ceremony

World Cup 2018, LIVE – Russia 2-0 Saudi Arabia opening match and ceremony updates at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow

  • Russia’s Iury Gazinsky scored the first goal of the World Cup with a header
  • Russia star Alan Dzagoev limped off inside 25 minutes with hamstring injury
  • But replacement Denis Cheryshev doubled the host’s lead before half-time 
  • Russia starting XI: Akinfeev, Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov, Zobnin, Gazinsky, Golovin, Samedov, Smolov, Dzagoev (Cheryshev)
  • Russia subs: Lunev, Semenov, Kuzyaev, Kudryashov, Granat, Aleksey Miranchuk, Anton Miranchuk, Erokhin, Dzyuba, Smolnikov, Gabulov
  • Saudi Arabia starting XI: Al-Muaiouf, Al-Breik, Osama Hawsawi, Omar Hawsawi, Al-Shahrani, Al-Jassam, Otayf, Al Dawsari, Al-Shehri, Al-Faraj, Al-Sahlawi
  • Sausi Arabia subs: Al-Mosailem, Al-Harbi, Al Bulaihi, Bahbir, Al-Khaibri, Kanno, Al-Khaibari, Al-Moqahwi, Al-Muwallad, Asiri, Motaz Hawsawi, Al-Owais
  • The opening ceremony and first match of the 2018 World Cup is on Thursday
  • Host nation Russia take on Saudi Arabia to kick off the summer festival of football
  • You can follow all the action from the Luzhniki Stadium here with DAN RIPLEY 
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  • Dan Ripley

    Host commentator

Couple of goals, one very good strike and two attacking teams… ok, one attacking team without a plan and a counter attacking team ready to pounce on every mistake.

It’s just about been the perfect 45 minutes for the host nation, the one blemish being the loss of Alan Dzagoev through a hamstring which is likely to rule him out for the rest of the tournament.

Here is how Cheryshev left the hosts in good shape at half-time…

45min: There will be two added minutes. Russia in absolute cruise control…

43min: And there is one of them. It’s the substitute Denis Cheryshev who is on target. Picking up the ball in the box, he fools two sliding Saudi defenders by cutting inside before lashing home high into the goal. Excellent strike.

39min: Saudi Arabia realise they need to get back into the game but they are looking a little naive in trying to do so.

They have had just the one chance but whenever their attacks break down (having gone nowhere) they look really open to the counter attack. There are more goals in this yet I feel…albeit for the hosts.

36min: Fine margins. Russia counter down the right with Fedar Smolov, who then feeds Roman Zobnin into the box.

The forward goes down following a stab of the foot from a Saudi defender and the home fans want a penalty. Replays are not conclusive but for my money, he just about gets the ball.

Don’t forget we do have VAR in use at this tournament.

34min: Some Saudi Arabia possession but even at this slow tempo they are struggling to pick out passes as one ball goes out of play.

Interesting to see Russia quickly get back into space when they lose the ball.

31min: As Zhirkov battles down the left flank with his zimmer frame, it’s been an impressive start from Mario Fernandes on the right side for the hosts.

Saudi Arabia haven’t been able to halt his attacking influence so far, and he has been a constant threat driving up from right-back.

27min: Minor improvement for the visitors, who are no longer under constant attack from Russia as Salem Al-Dawsari fires way over the bar from 30 yards – yes that does count as an improvement.

24min: Indeed, Dzagoev goes off and you have to feel for him – that could see his World Cup all over in less than half-an-hour. He has been replaced by Denis Cheryshev.

23min: Huge blow for the hosts here – and possibly the tournament. Euro 2012 star, Alan Dzagoev has gone down clutching his hamstring and arguably Russia’s best player is certainly not going to continue the game.

21min: Always happen. I lay into a team’s woeful attacking ability and they nearly score a few seconds later.

The visitors counter down the left, with a cross into the box finding Mohammad Al-Sahlawi in the box whose header defletcs just wide of the post.

18min: Still nothing from Saudi Arabia. They don’t seem to have anything in their locker to attack this Russian side right now. They can’t even get out their half.

Here is the opening goal of the World Cup by the way:

15min: I fear a bit for Suadi Arabia in this tournament. They are making a Russia side in crisis look like total world beaters. Still the hosts attack with confidence as they chase a second goal.

12min: Lift off! The World Cup sees its first goal as Iury Gazinsky heads in following a high Aleksandar Golovin cross into the box. It’s been coming.

11min: Former Chelsea full-back Yuri Zhirkov is still applying his trade at this level but it is not the 34-year-old providing the danger as Russia continue to pile forward.

8min: Russia look the bigger threat so far. Although they lack a clinical edge as a decent chance from a cut-back is somehow scrambled clear by Saudi Arabia.

5min: Wow, tough crowd. It’s not even been five minutes and already we have a Mexican Wave in the stands. It’s not that bad, everyone!

3min: Decent start from the hosts, who have not won their last seven matches, as they win a corner. However the near post delivery is headed clear.

Despite this ‘flip of the bird’, I still found his performance enjoyable though, right onto the main event now – the start of the FIFA World Cup.

A reminder of the teams before kick-off while Presdident Vladimir Putin addresses us Russian…

Russia: Akinfeev, 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)

Robbie has nailed that. And just to top it off the mascot Zabivaka got involved to pose for a photo to conclude the opening ceremony.

I have a lot of time for mascots, and Zabivaka has the potential to be the best since the great Footix of World Cup 98.

It’s not just him by the way, he is surrounded by an impressive range of dancers too as he moves into a rendition of ‘Feel.’

In fact, Robbie is belting out all the classics now! He has moved onto a duet for ‘Angels’. This has been quite an opening ceremony so far – even the whole crowd are singing along.

It is set to be short and sweet at just 10 minutes long and kicks off with Robbie Williams emerging from the tunnel wearing a suit looking like he is dressed as a red leopard singing ‘Let Me Entertain You.’

What a start to the World Cup!

…even the Mexicans are getting involved! Although I am not quite sure what the plastic snake is all about… at least I hope it is a plastic snake.

BeIn Sports agree to show 22 World Cup matches for FREE across the Middle East and North Africa

ANTHONY HARWOOD: BeIn Sports on Wednesday agreed to broadcast 22 World Cup matches for free across the Middle East and North Africa after millions of fans faced being unable to watch the tournament.

The Doha-based sports channel made the eleventh-hour announcement just before the tournament opened following consultation with FIFA.

Read more here

Al-Maiouf; Alburayk, Os.Hawsawi, Om.Hawsawi, Al-Shahrani, Otayf, Al-Dawsari, Al-Faraj, Al-Jassam, Al-Shehri, Al-Sahlawi.

I can’t think of many more safer pair of hands than 2010 World Cup winner Iker Casillas, and the Porto golakpper has ensured the World Cup trophy has arrived inside the ground.

…was a damn long time ago. In fact it was 1994 when Saeed Al-Owairan scored one of the greatest World Cup goals after taking on the entire Belgium team in a a 1-0 win.

Saudi Arabia have been to three since and have pretty much bombed at each one of them.

…was a damn long time ago. In fact it was 1994 when Saeed Al-Owairan scored won of the greatest World Cup goals after taking on the entire Belgium team in a a 1-0 win. They have been to three since and have pretty much bombed at each one of them.

MARTIN SAMUEL: We need heroes to shine… Russia and FIFA pray stars light up the World Cup to put gloss on their shabby images

DAILY MAIL CHIEF SPORTS WRITER: The World Cup starts on Thursday and FIFA need a good one. They want Lionel Messi at the top of his game, they want Brazil to perform, they need an imperious Cristiano Ronaldo and for Spain to swiftly rise above Wednesday’s chaos. A lot is riding on the next 32 days. Not just this World Cup, but the next one, too.

Read more here

After four long years, the World Cup is finally back.

Russia 2018 kicks off on Thursday afternoon with the host nation taking on Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in the capital Moscow.

You can follow the opening ceremony and all the action from the tournament’s first match, with proceedings due to kick off at 3.30pm BST. Our man at the helm will be DAN RIPLEY. 

14.15: Fans from both teams are in good spirits as they arrive at the Luzhniki

A supporter takes a group selfie in front of Russia fans outside the stadium before the game

Russia fans will be hopeful their side can open up with a win on home soil

A Saudi Arabia fan shows off their national flag as he arrives for the World Cup kick-off

Saudi Arabia supporters are looking forward to their first World Cup since 2006

14.11: This is a huge game for Russia and Saudi Arabia…

And not just because it is the opening game and all the eyes are all on them. They are also in a group along with Uruguay and Mohamed Salah’s Egypt.

With tough games like those to come, victory today is perhaps crucial to whether they progress beyond the group stage.

Russia and Saudi Arabia are also grouped with Egypt and Uruguay. The top two will progress

14.05: The Luzhniki Stadium is all set for the first game of the tournament 

The Luzhniki Stadium will host the opening game for the FIFA World Cup finals

The host nation Russia will be taking on Saudi Arabia to kick off proceedings

Kick-off for the Group A clash is at 4pm BST in the only game of the day from Russia

14:00: Remember all those international breaks you were forced to endure?

Well, your patience is about to pay off. It’s finally here. Arguably the greatest show on Earth.

Welcome to the The FIFA World Cup!

Sportsmail kicks off live coverage of the tournamnet with the barnstormer of… Russia vs Saudi Arabia.

Oh well, they can’t all catch the imagination but maybe these two teams can spring a surprise and produce an opening game to remember… what do you mean they are the two lowest ranked teams?

Russia fans arrive at the Luzhniki Stadium for their side’s opening game against Saudi Arabia


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