Festival of goals at Russia's World Cup opening ceremony

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Festival of goals at Russia's World Cup opening ceremony

The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off Thursday in Russian Federation, with a field of 32 teams from around the globe competing in a monthlong tournament that concludes July 15.

Russian Federation looked more purposeful 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 left unmarked to nod home Golovin's deep left-wing cross.

It was a goal that prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to turn to the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, seated alongside Federation Internationale de Football Association chief Gianni Infantino, and shake his hand.

Goals from Yury Gazinsky, Artem Dzyuba and Aleksandr Golovin helped them on their way, but the former Real Madrid man stole the limelight after coming on as a first half subsitute. Substitute Denis Cheryshev scored twice - the first after a piece of skill that would have graced a Lionel Messi highlights reel - and the second a superb shot in stoppage time.

It was a game that many in Russian Federation had feared could turn into an embarrassment, but rather than let their country down, Stanislav Cherchesov's team gave the World Cup a ideal start by cruising to a 5-0 victory against Saudi Arabia in Moscow.

The hosts did better in the 43rd on another fast move, with the ball eventually falling to Cheryshev who rounded two defenders and smashed into the net at the near left post.

The crowd were then treated to a fabulous finale as Cheryshev cleverly rifled home an unstoppable curving fourth with the outside of his foot before Golovin capped a great personal performance by curling his free kick beyond the wall. An opening ceremony before the match will feature Will Smith singing Live It Up, the official anthem of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Colombia will log just 761 miles through their first three matches of the World Cup, one of just two teams that won't clear 1,000 miles in the group stage. The United States will play the biggest role in the bid, with 10 of the 16 host cities being in America.

Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi had earlier said that Saudi Arabia would play without fear on Thursday.

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