Photo credit: @SaudiNT

World Cup: Saudi team safe after plane caught fire mid-flight

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The Saudi Arabian national team arrived alive and well in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on Monday after a terrifying incident that saw their plane catch fire in the air.

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The blaze was caused by “a technical failure in one of the airplane engines,” which the airline, Rossiya, claims was caused by a bird flying into the engine. Each of the planes engines were reportedly in operation upon landing at its final destination.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation posted a message on Twitter later on Monday, saying they “would like to reassure everyone that all the Saudi national team players are safe, after a technical failure in one of the airplane engines that has just landed in Rostov-on-Don airport, and now they’re heading to their residence safely.”

The Green Falcons will face Uruguay in Rostov, hoping to rebound from their tournament-opening 5-0 loss to Russia on Thursday, in each side’s second game of Group A action on Wednesday (11 a.m. ET).

Pizzi: Saudi Arabia needs ‘to recover from shameful situation’

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Saudi Arabia manager Juan Antonio Pizzi used blunt words to describe his side’s 5-0 loss to host nation Russia in the World Cup opener for both sides on Thursday.

“Results like this don’t happen very often in World Cups and we need to recover from this shameful situation,” he said.

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Pizzi’s men were down 2-0 at the break and it didn’t get any better in the second stanza, conceding thrice down the stretch including twice in stoppage time.

All told, the Green Falcons took their best chance at a win and couldn’t muster much of anything. Here’s more from Pizzi, the former Chile, Valencia, Leon, and San Lorenzo boss.

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“I trust my efforts, I trust my players and I fully trust that we’ll have a better performance in the next game. I don’t think they did anything to surprise us. They won without doing much – a poor performance explains this result.”

Saudi Arabia will have one more day’s rest than its next opponent, Uruguay, before facing Egypt in the Group A finale.

VIDEO: Cheryshev, Golovin score stunners for Russia

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Denis Cheryshev and Aleksandar Golovin were the stars of the show for 2018 World Cup hosts Russia as they beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 in their Group A opener on Thursday.

[ RECAP: Russia humble Saudi Arabia

Cheryshev jumped off the bench in the first half and scored a goal in each half, his first two goals for Russia, and his second was a beauty late in the game with the outside of his left foot.

Golovin finished the win off in style as he curled home a fine free kick to cap off a wonderful individual performance as he also had two assists.

Take a look at both goals below.

Hosts Russia hammer Saudi Arabia in World Cup opener

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Hosts Russia got off to a perfect start as they beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening game of the 2018 World Cup in Moscow.

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Russia took the lead early on through Yury Gazinskiy’s header and doubled their lead just before the break as Denis Cheryshev slammed home after fine footwork. Artem Dzyuba jumped off the bench to nod home to make it 3-0, then two fine strikes late on from Cheryshev and then Aleksandar Golovin, who also grabbed two assists, completed the rout.

Despite Saudi Arabia having plenty of possession they hardly threatened the Russian goal as the hosts momentarily went top of Group A ahead of Egypt playing Uruguay on Friday.

Next up for Russia is a clash against Egypt on June 19 in Saint Petersburg. Saudi Arabia take on Uruguay on June 20 in Rostov-on-Don.

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A rapid pace to the game early on saw both teams eager to impress and Russia had the first real chance of the game as Fernandes pulled the ball but the shot was blocked.

Soon after Russia took the lead as a superb cross from the left from Aleksandar Golovin found Gazinskiy at the back post who headed home his first international goal. 1-0 to Russia just 12 minutes in.

Smolov then had a shot deflected towards the top corner but Al-Mayoof clawed it away as the hosts started superbly.

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As the game wore on Saudi Arabia settled down and Al Sahlawi nearly got on the end of an inviting cross but Russia cleared for a corner.

Dzagoev was then replaced by Cheryshev as one of Russia’s key players went down with what looked like a pretty serious hamstring injury. However the hosts were very comfortable as they pressed Saudi Arabia’s defense whenever they could and that led to their second goal.

A slice of luck saw Russia grab the ball and Golovin broke free before teeing upRoman Zobnin who played in Cheryshev. The Villarreal man controlled superbly and then smashed home to make it 2-0.

Russia sat back after the break and Saudi Arabia almost pulled one back as a cross from the right just evaded both Al Sahlawi and Al Jassam.

On the break Zobnin drove forward and his shot was parried clumsily by Al-Mayoof as Saudi Arabia cleared the danger.

Golovin then picked out substitute Dzuyba to nod home with his first touch, as Russia eased to victory and the home fans rejoiced.

It would get better in stoppage time as Cheryshev scored a stunner with the outside of his left foot, then Golovin curled home a beautiful free kick to make it 5-0.

What a start for Russia.

VIDEO: Russia score first goals of 2018 World Cup

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The first two goals of the 2018 World Cup have been scored and hosts Russia are off to a flying start.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

Opening up the tournament against Saudi Arabia in Group A, Russia started brightly and went ahead less than 12 minutes in.

Aleksandar Golovin’s cross from the left found Yury Gazinskiy and he nodded home his first-ever international goal.

Then just before half time Denis Cheryshev made it 2-0 with a lovely composed finish.

Watch the videos below to see Russia’s goals.

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