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World Cup 2018 : Russia opens with historic 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia

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MOSCOW — Host Russia secured the biggest World Cup opening match win since 1934, as it raced to a 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Thursday, with rising star Aleksandr Golovin at the heart of the home team’s best moves.

With the eyes of the world on the Luzhniki Stadium, the largest nation on Earth kicked off the biggest tournament with a faded British pop star giving way to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who plans to use the World Cup as a month-long pulpit to address outsiders’ perception of Russia.

Thousands of Russian and foreign fans had turned out to watch the World Cup opener in a Moscow fan zone. A crowd of some 10,000 people, including many families with young children, crowded onto the hill above the stadium with giant screens set up to watch the game.

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Russia’s Iury Gazinsky scored after 12 minutes and Cheryshev, who himself suffered an injury-plagued season, added a second goal before the break after coming on as an injury replacement for Alan Dzagoev.

Flag-waving supporters from all over the world let out huge cheers and chanted ‘Russia!’ as the host team scored twice in the first half at the city’s Luzhniki Stadium.

Russia again in the second half looked the more penetrating team, with Golovin reprising his cross for another calm headed finish from substitute Artyom Dzyuba to safeguard the win, to the instant relief of embattled coach Stanislav Cherchesov.

As Saudi Arabia lost all semblance of organization, Cheryshev turned a win into a thrashing with a stunning outside-of-the-foot shot in the dying moments, and Golovin once again stole the headlines with a trademark free kick with the last touch of the game.

Agencies

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SAFF U-15 women’s championship begins today; India face Sri Lanka in inaugural match

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THIMPU — Six under 15 teams from Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Nepal are participating the second edition of South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) U-15 Women’s championship, Thimphu that is kicking off from Thursday.

India and Sri Lanka are facing each other in an inaugural game at the Changlingmithang stadium. The match is taking place at Thimphu-based Changlimithang Stadium at 4:00 pm local time.

Similarly, Bangladesh and Pakistan under Group B are facing each other in the second game scheduled at 7:00 pm local time today itself.

At the pre press conference held in Thimphu on Wednesday, the coaches and team captains from six countries said that SAFF U-15 Women’s championship 2018 would be the toughest championship.

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Of the six countries, Sri Lanka and Pakistan are taking part in the championship for the first time. Bhutan is hosting the 10-day championship for the first time.

Bangladesh had won the title by defeating India 1-0 in the first edition of the Championship held in Bangladesh.

Nepal’s 32-member women’s football team had left Tuesday for Bhutan to play in the Second U-15 SAFF Championship Women Football.

The team comprises 23 players, three coaches, five officials and one sports journalist. Nepal is placed in Group B of the Championship. Nepal will play against Pakistan on August 11 in the first game and against Bangladesh on August 13.

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