Russia enjoyed the perfect start to their 2018 World Cup campaign with an emphatic 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia in Moscow on Thursday afternoon.
There had been considerable pessimism surrounding the hosts ahead of the opening clash, but supporters will have been infused with a newfound sense of confidence and optimism after such a commanding win, albeit against opposition that simply fell apart as the match wore on.
The final two goals came from the two stars of the show for Russia. Already 3-0 up, the ball fell to first-half substitute Denis Cheryshev in stoppage time. The Villareal midfielder, already on a high thanks to a well-worked goal before half-time, struck the ball beautifully on the half-volley with the outside of his left foot, giving Saudi keeper Abdullah Al Muaiouf no chance of keeping it out.
There was still time for a Russian fifth, and it was only fitting that it came from the boot of Aleksandr Golovin. The CSKA Moscow playmaker was fantastic through, laying on two assists with pinpoint crosses either side of half time.
When Russia were awarded a free kick just outside the box, only one man was going to take it. Though questions can be asked of the wall and the goalkeeping, it was still a sweetly-struck shot from Golovin that capped a brilliant performance.
Russia will have two bugger tests to come in the form of Uruguay and Egypt, but they could not have asked for a better way to start their World Cup.