Russian President Vladimir Putin has been wielding power for 18 years
15 June, 2018, 01:01
Having come into the game with no wins in seven matches, Russian Federation will now face Egypt and Uruguay without undue worries about goal difference, while Saudi Arabia manager Juan Antonio Pizzi will hope not to repeat the fate of Carlos Alberto Parreira, fired by the same team after two matches in France 98.
Russian Federation looked lively from the start as they poured into the vast spaces on both flanks and it was no surprise when they opened the scoring after 12 minutes as Gazinsky was totally unmarked to nod home Golovin's deep left-wing cross.
Two-goal hero Denis Cheryshev celebrates victory with teammates after Russia's 5-0 rout of Saudi Arabia.
Putin and Infantino smiled and shrugged as they sat next to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the VIP box.
Another substitute, Artem Dzyuba, made it 3-0 with about 20 minutes remaining, putting the game out of Saudi Arabia's reach. Aleksandr Golovin's stoppage time free-kick to make it 5-0 was the icing on the cake for the Russians.
The duo are the first subs to ever score in a World Cup opener, according to statisticians Opta. Russian Federation next play Egypt on Tuesday in St Petersburg while the Saudis face Uruguay the following day in Rostov-on-Don.
The hosts could hardly have dreamt of a better start to their home tournament, putting the Saudis to the sword with the last two goals coming in added time. Aware that Saudi Arabia's defenders were unlikely to challenge him, the attacker curled in a lovely shot from the edge of the box with the outside of his left foot to put his team up four.
Golovin is the young star of this Russian Federation team, and the CSKA midfielder was impressive against the Saudis, but Dzagoev's class and experience will be a key loss if he fails to recover in time for the remaining Group A games against Egypt and Uruguay.
The other Group A teams Uruguay and Egypt meet Friday in Yekaterinburg.
Russia's players were significantly taller and heavier than the Saudis, a help when challenging for the ball and when the penalty area was crowded.
Having lost several key players to injury before the World Cup, the loss of Dzagoev to what appeared to be a hamstring pull halfway through the first half of the opening game was merely another setback for coach Cherchesov.