The hosts of the World Cup got the tournament off to an incredible start, as they comprehensively thrashed a poor Saudi Arabia side by five goals to nil.
Goals in the first half from Yuri Gazinsky and Denis Cheryshev gave Russia a deserved lead, while Artem Dzyuba put the game beyond doubt in the second half to make it 3-0.
In stoppage time, the Russians put both the icing and a cherry on top of the cake, as Cheryshev struck a fourth with the outside of his boot and the excellent Aleksandr Golovin curled a quality free kick around the wall to beat the hapless Al-Mayoof.
Russia had come into the World Cup in poor form, having won none of their previous seven matches, but the side coached by the charismatic Stanislav Cherchesov sent a strong message to all of the doubters – led by Russian president Vladimir Putin – by recording the biggest win by a host nation in any opening game of a World Cup since Italy demolished the USA 7-1 way back in 1934.
The visitors rarely troubled the hosts and their goalkeeper Akinfeev, with Mohammed Al Sahlawi providing their best chance, heading just wide in the first half. Saudi Arabia are now a massive 16.55 to beat Uruguay in their second match at the tournament.
Two goal hero Denis Cheryshev can, at the time of writing, be backed to win the 2018 World Cup’s Golden Shoe (top goalscorer) award at big odds of 28.00 – to bet 50 bob on that outcome, SMS 7558#O#116#50 to 29567.
Friday’s other Group A game sees favourites to qualify Uruguay (1.61) take on Egypt (7.50).