Google Doodle celebrates diverse cultures for World Cup kickoff

Posted June 15, 2018

Russian Federation launched the World Cup party in spectacular style when they thrashed a feeble Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the tournament's opening match on Thursday to give the host nation the lift they desperately needed after a nine-month winless run.

While the rest of the tournament will be filled with iconic and memorable moments on the pitch, it's likely that the lasting image from the opening game of the tournament will be the shrug and consequent handshake Russian president Vladimir Putin gave Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman after the first goal of the game. Substitute Denis Cheryshev scored twice - the first after a piece of skill that would have graced a Lionel Messi highlights reel - and the second a superb shot in stoppage time.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud and Federation Internationale de Football Association president Gianni Infantino attended the opener along with further dignitaries and heads of state - but none from Western European or North American countries.

Artyom Dzyuba made an instant impact off the bench to make it 3-0 in the 71st with a header off Golovin's cross.

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The opening goal came soon after, as Saudi Arabia failed to clear a corner and a curling cross in from the left by Golovin picked out an unmarked Gazinsky to head low into the far corner.

Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Abdullah Almuaiouf is beaten by a free kick from Russia's Alexander Golovin in extra-time of their World Cup opener.

The group stages will be 16 groups of three teams with the top two going through.

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But with the five goals against the Saudis, a draw could be enough against either of its two remaining opponents.

A lack of an attacking threat in recent outings was a primary concern for Russian Federation going into a group campaign in which they will also face Egypt and Uruguay.

Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi had earlier said that Saudi Arabia would play without fear on Thursday.

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