Russia, the host of the 2018 World Cup, on Thursday opened the mundial with a thrilling cracker by beating Saudi Arabia 5-0.
It was a shocking development as Russia, which have been deficient in international football, best a technically backward Saudi Arabia.
This increased Russia’s chances of qualifying from Group A.
It also raised the prospects of thrilling World Cup, with the promise that the host nation would not exit the tournament early and ruin the excitement.
Goals from Iury Gazinsky, Denis Cheryshev (two) and Artem Dzyuba earned the Russians a thumping victory – their first win in eight matches – in front of 78,000 at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.
This was never likely to be a classic opener between teams ranked 67th and 70th in the FIFA rankings – with Russia somehow beneath the visitors – and thanks to some non-league defending from the Saudis, it bordered on farce at times.
After a weirdly low-key opening ceremony – basically just a mini Robbie Williams gig with some dancers doing keepy-up – we were treated to some lovey-dovey words from international man of peace Vladimir Putin.
Then it was down to what were officially the two worst teams in the tournament to kick us off – and, Saudi Arabia were bad, the sun.co.uk reports.