Alan Dzagoev facing World Cup heartache


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Russia enjoyed a dream start to the 2018 World Cup after beating Saudi Arabia 5-0 on Thursday, but midfielder Alan Dzagoev could now miss the rest of the tournament through injury.

Many people had written the hosts off coming into the finals, but they produced a five-star display as they dismantled their Saudi opponents thanks to Yuri Gazinskiy’s opener, a brace from Denis Cheryshev and further strikes from Artem Dzyuba and Aleksandr Golovin.

Russia have now put themselves in a strong position to qualify for the knockout stages for the first time since the break-up of the Soviet Union, although there was a blot on their copybook, as Dzagoev was forced off with an injury during the first-half of the contest at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

The CSKA Moscow star went down clutching the back of his leg and he was subsequently replaced by two-goal hero Cheryshev, with the Russian Football Union confirming after the match he will have to undergo tests before they know the full extent of the damage, but it could bring his tournament to a premature end.

“Alan Dzagoev damaged the muscles in the back of the thigh,” Russia said in a brief statement.

“The terms of treatment will be determined by the results of the upcoming MRI.”

Russia will be hoping the injury is not as serious as first feared, but Dzagoev does not have much time to recover, as the host’s next match will be against Egypt in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.

Stanislav Cherchesov’s side are priced at 2.05 to make it two wins from two during that match, while Egypt are available at 3.80 and the draw is on offer at 3.25.

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