Published: Sun, June 17, 2018
Culture&Arts | By Rick Owen

Saudi Arabia Denies Punishing Players for Losing 2018 FIFA World Cup Opener

Saudi Arabia Denies Punishing Players for Losing 2018 FIFA World Cup Opener

From left, Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, FIFA President Gianni Infantino, and Russian President Vladimir Putin watch the match between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Twitter was quick to react to the interaction, imagining the possible conversations surrounding the handshake.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off on Thursday with the opening match in the Russian capital of Moscow between hosts Russia and the national team from Saudi Arabia, which Russia won 5:0.

Saudi Arabia's next Group A encounter is against Uruguay in Rostov on June 20.

The midfielder was already on the radar of a number of top clubs in Europe before the World Cup opener, but since the game the noise around his future has grown even louder.

Privately-owned Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm decried the "painful fall of Saudi Arabia".

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. Egypt and Uruguay play Friday in Yekaterinburg.

Russian Federation have injury worries of their own as forward Alan Dzagoev limped off mid-way through the first half with what appeared a left hamstring injury.

Raised in Spain, where his father Dmitry taught at Real Madrid's youth academy, Cheryshev showed his technical skills by beating the two Saudi defenders before his first goal.

"The opposing team really didn't have to make a huge effort to win this game", he said after a one-sided showing that marked a dream start for the home team in front of a capacity crowd.

Saudi coach Juan Antonio Pizzi: "We were not doing what we wanted to do".

Cherchesov didn't object but politely pointed out that "he probably overlooked how much more disciplined, compact and mature we played" compared to previous games.

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