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Russia’s 5 World Cup opener goals, ranked

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Russia showed some style against a slipshod Saudi Arabia defense, but which of their goals stood out from the rest?

The 2018 World Cup got off to a roaring start as Russia absolutely battered Saudi Arabia to the tune of a 5-0 win. It was an absolute thrashing by the hosts of the tournament, and they scored some absolute beauties along the way thanks in large part to standout performances by Aleksandr Golovin and Denis Cheryshev.

So which goal was the best? Let’s rank them.

1: Denis Cheryshev, 4-0, 90’

Cheryshev had already scored a gorgeous goal just a few short minutes after entering the match late in the first half. But then, with full-time approaching, he found space to get onto his preferred left foot, and unleashed this shot with the outside of his foot that just slid through the air with a picture-perfect path to the far post. It was utterly unsavable, utterly beautiful. The fact that he turned to take it with his left instead of taking the “easier” right-footed shot there is a hilarious way for him to finish a match that saw him avoid his right foot at any cost.

2: Aleksandr Golovin, 5-0, 90’+4

Cheryshev had a hat trick and the best goal of the night, but Aleksandr Golovin was the runaway star of the match. The 22-year-old CSKA Moscow player came alive in a huge way after moving behind the striker when Alan Dzagoev had to leave early with an injury. His playmaking qualities were on full display in gorgeously setting up both of Russia’s first two goals. His work on the ball is going to give Saudi Arabia’s midfielders and defenders nightmares for years to come, and this perfectly-struck free kick that bent tight around the wall and beat the keeper to the near post deserves to be commemorated as a teaching tool on how to take top-quality free kicks.

3: Denis Cheryshev, 2-0, 43’

Everyone was talking about Cheryshev’s first goal just before halftime before he scored his second late in the match, and for good reason. He was perfectly set up by Golovin’s little feeder pass from the top of the box, and his dinked touch to control the ball and put it where he wanted to get onto his left foot to shoot sent not one but two Saudi defenders sliding yards away from the ball in futility. Not a bad way to make an impact off the bench.

4: Artem Dzyuba, 3-0, 71’

Dzyuba had been on the pitch for all of a minute when he scored this one. Talk about making an instant impact.

5: Yuri Gazinskiy, 1-0, 12’

Look, no offense to Gazinskiy, but this one was pretty routine compared to the rest of what his teammates did in this match. It’s a good goal, but it pales in comparison to Cheryshev and Golovin on the day.

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