Russia World Cup ready to kick off with grand opening ceremony

A grizzly bear roams through the Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

A grizzly bear roams through the Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

Host Russia beats Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening match of the World Cup 2018 in a Group A game.

After an opening ceremony which included British pop icon Robbie Williams, it took just 12 minutes for the tournament's first goal, with Gazinsky opening his global account with a well-taken header across goal.

Dzagoev hurt his hamstring in the opening period and could be a doubt for the rest of the tournament, depending on the results of a scan.

Substitute Denis Cheryshev soon scored the first of his two goals.

Minutes before Saudi Arabia kicked off the tournament against host nation Russia, Putin said: "I congratulate all of you at the start of the most important championship in the world".

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The fact that two of the world's best players, Portuguese centre-forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentine playmaker Lionel Messi have not yet won the cup for their respective countries - despite the duo dominating the lovely game virtually unopposed - has captured the minds of spectators from around the world. "This has nothing to do with the World Cup", he told reporters.

On the break Zobnin drove forward and his shot was parried clumsily by Al-Mayoof as Saudi Arabia cleared the danger.

Still, as high as the price tag is, economists say the massive effort won't be enough to generate much of a blip in Russia's nearly $1.5 trillion economy. The CSKA Moscow playmaker was fantastic through, laying on two assists with pinpoint crosses either side of half time. Cherchesov said later that his tournament might be over but one man's misfortune is another's opportunity as his replacement Cheryshev doubled the lead with a mesmerising touch of skill.

Saudi Arabia's route to the knockout round is much more hard.

Two teams notably absent from the tournament are Italy and the Netherlands.

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On Friday, Egypt takes on Uruguay, Morocco faces Iran and Portugal squares off against Spain.

The hosts' main goal threat should come from Fedor Smolov.

There was still time for yet another cracking goal, this time via a fine Aleksandr Golovin free-kick.

Russian Federation dominated in front of a sell-out crowd of 78,011 - and millions more on TV - at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium and also overcame a major blow when forward Alan Dzagoev had to limp off midway through the first half with what appeared to be left hamstring injury.

The duo are the first subs to ever score in a World Cup opener, according to statisticians Opta.

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