Russia has started its FIFA World Cup campaign recording a 5-0 victory against Saudi Arabia in front of a partisan Moscow crowd at the Luzhniki Stadium.
The result ranking as the second greatest opening match margin in World Cup history, sitting second behind Italy’s 7-1 win against the US in 1934.
Albeit the result is the greatest since the introduction of the Group Stage in the tournament.
Head coach Stanislav Cherchesov's will be hailed as a tactical genius after two of his substitutes found the back of the net and sealed three valuable points for the host nation.
Russia upheld the trend set by the many host nations before them by claiming maximum points in the opening match and temporarily muting the local media’s castigation towards them.
Four years of anticipation was met by a vibrant opening ceremony headlined by Robbie Williams who blasted his greatest hits and flipped inappropriate gestures to the camera while thousands in attendance sung along.
As the Argentinian referee commenced proceedings the added expectation of opening the tournament was evident as misplaced passes were aplenty.
Saudi Arabia sought to frustrate the hosts by maintaining a majority of possession in their defensive half but a lack of drive and offensive movement ultimately contributed to their fall, failing to register a clear attempt on goal.
The Russians hit the scoreboard early by capitalising on poor marking from the Saudi defence as Aleksandr Golovin combined with an unmarked Yuri Gazinskiy at the back post for the opening goal.
In response to this poor defensive display Russia pounced on spilled passes in midfield and looked to punish on the counter.
The home side were dealt an unfortunate blow midway through the first half as Alan Dzagoev was forced off with a hamstring injury which could see him sit out for the remainder of the tournament.
The 27 year-old was replaced by a spritely Denis Cheryshev who exacerbated Saudi Arabia’s woes by moving past two sliding defenders in the box before converting his nation’s second goal after an impressive build up right on the cusp of half time.
Staring down the barrel of an embarrassing defeat the visitors started the second stanza as they did the first.
Saudi Arabia’s best chance coming in the 55th minute when a ball swung in by Yahya Al Shehri bypassing star talisman Mohammed Al Sahlawi who mistimed his shot.
The hosts were able to put the tie to bed when Cherchesov's second substitute Artem Dzyuba scored Russia’s third with his first touch. Dzyuba heading truly past Saudi goalkeeper Abdulla Al-Mayoof from another cross hit with precision by Golovin.
From here the Russian’s let their hair down and enjoyed the remainder of the contest by playing with great confidence and giving a vocal home crowd something to enjoy.
Cheryshev added to his tally late in the match with an early contender for goal of the tournament, striking the ball with the outside of his boot on the half volley which sailed into the top corner.
But the home side were not done there.
The were intent on sending a message to their more fancied Group A opponents.
A 94th minute free kick from Golovin, who was the man of the match, the icing on a famous victory which has put the host nation in a very good position ahead of two arduous matches against Egypt and Uruguay.
Russia’s campaign off to the perfect start while plenty of questions raised as to Saudi Arabia’s defensive capability.