Considering they were the lowest ranked side at the start of this Fifa World Cup 2018, there was plenty of pressure on the hosts Russia to show they belonged on this stage. The fact that their opening game was against the second lowest ranked team in Saudi Arabia helped, but they also put in a performance that warmed the hearts of the capacity crowd, which included Vladimir Putin, at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Dominating the game, in terms of chances, from minute one, Russia cruised to a 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia, with it making a statement to the rest of their opponents in Group A.
Russia began the game on the front foot, and you felt it was only a matter of time before they opened the scoring.
Aleksandr Golovin was looking menacing, while Alan Dzagoev was dangerous, making runs and finding those passes in behind the Saudi Arabia defence, with the centre-forward Fedor Smolov looking to grab one of those chances created.
When the goal did come, though, it wasn't from open play, as Russia got the goalscoring rolling in this World Cup via a corner kick.
After the initial corner was cleared, the ball fell to the feet of the dangerous playmaker Golovin – wanted by several big European clubs, including Chelsea and Arsenal – who looked up and saw two of his teammates at the far post. He found the one closer to him with a precise cross, with Iury Gazinsky providing the perfect finish, heading the ball over the goalkeeper and into the opposite corner for his first international goal.
With the lead taken, Russia decided to sit back and give Saudi Arabia the bulk of the possession, and while that can be a dangerous thing to do, the Asian side struggled to remotely trouble the home side's defence.
Mohammad Al-Sahlawi, who scored 16 goals in qualifying for Saudi Arabia, just could not get into the game, the closest he came being when he just failed to latch onto a pass, allowing the Russian defence to clear.
The possession stat was in Saudi Arabia's favour, but the chances kept coming at the other end, with Russia looking dangerous every time they went on the attack. And just before halftime, one of those attacks led to the second goal, scored by the man who came on in the 24th minute, after Dzagoev was forced off clutching his hamstring, with his tournament, in all probability, done.
Off a quick counter, Cheryshev received the ball on the left from Smolov, with the former Real Madrid man then showing some impressive skill by lifting the ball over a couple of sliding defenders, before showing the composure to smash the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper.
Cheryshev, his teammates and the vast majority of the crowd went wild, in the knowledge that their side were well on their way to starting their home World Cup off with an impressive win.
The second half was again about Russia looking dangerous every time they went forward, with Golovin shooting one over.
Saudi Arabia, though, did finally create an opening at the other end, as a cross from the right, a really nice one, just missed the feet of both Al-Sahlawi and Taiseer Al-Jassam. That chance was at least encouraging because it showed Saudi Arabia might have a goal in them with a free-kick, soon after, also causing a bit of a bother for the Russia defence.
However, it was always going to be Russia who were going to score, if there were to be a third goal, with substitute Artem Dzyuba heading in a proper centre-forward's goal, seconds after coming on, to make it a convincing game, set and match for the hosts.
And, in the final moments, just to add a glorious double icing to an already tasty cake, Cheryshev knocked in his second and an early goal of the tournament contender, curling one into the top corner with the outside of his left foot, before Golovin said, "I can better that," by curling in a glorious free-kick.
Result: Fifa World Cup 2018 Match 1: Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia.
Goal-scorers: Russia: Iury Gazinsky (12), Denis Cheryshev (43, 90+1), Artem Dzyuba (71), Aleksandr Golovin (90+4).