The hosts, Russia, could not have asked for more.
Their flattering 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia in the opening game of the tournament must have warmed the cockles of hearts of not only the home crowd but also many the world over who follow the hosts as favourites.
Denis Chryshev, for example, who came in the first half, scored in the 43rd and 89th minute. Incidentally, these were his first FIFA World Cup goals for he was playing in his first World Cup match.
Earlier, Gazinsky, making his World Cup debut, too, made a dream start with a brilliant goal in the 12th minute.
So both Gazinsky and Denis Chrushev iced upto expectations of the team management by scoring goals in their first big games.
The Russians also made full use of the closing moments of both first half and the second half. After taking early lead in the 12th minute, the hosts consolidated the lead in the 43rd minute when Denis, who had come in the mid way of the first half, surprised the Saudi Arabian defence.
Intriguingly, the game was witnessed by political bigwigs of both Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Leading by comfortable 2-0 lead, the Russians brought in experienced Dzyuba in the 70th minute. Playing his 13th international, Dzyuba soon justified his induction with a goal in the 71st minute to make it 3-0.
When Denis Chryshev scored the fourth goal in the first minute of the “waste time”, everyone thought the game to be over with a flattering 4-0 win for the Russians.
But Golovin, who was later adjudged the best player of the match, scored from a direct penalty kick that left the Saudi Arabian defence, including goalkeeper, clueless.
Though Russia had beaten Cameroon 6-1 for its biggest win the World Cup in the past but win had come in an inconsequential game. Today’s win, the first in the opener of Group “A” will stand the hosts in good stead while progressing to next round.