An overwhelmed Saudi Arabia could do little against Russia in a 5-0 defeat to open their World Cup campaign on Thursday evening.
The Green Falcons attempted to shed their expected defensive mindset and came out strongly, but were quickly outclassed by Yuri Gazinsky’s 12th-minute header. Russia piled on as the clock advanced, with Denis Cheryshev becoming the first substitute to score in a World Cup opener after netting two goals. His second, a rocket in second half stoppage time to make it 4-0, brought a packed Luzhniki Stadium crowd to their feet.
“They won without doing much; [our] poor performance explains this result,” Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said after the match according to ESPN. “Results like this don’t happen very often in World Cups and we need to recover from this shameful situation.”
With most online media placing the West Asian side amongst the bottom of their World Cup power rankings, an upset against the hosts in the opening match was always going to be a tall order. Readers of the Guardian were not impressed with the Saudis, handing them low ratings across the board.
— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) June 14, 2018
The result will leave Asian football fans hoping for better results on Friday night when Iran take on Morocco in Group B.