90+5min: FULL TIME
90+4min: Golovin makes it five from a free kick. Ouch.
90+1min: Cheryshev gets his second with a rather impressive left-footed effort. Que golasssssso!!
90min: 3 minutes of added-on time.
88min: Golovin gets a yellow, presumably for putting in a proper effort still.
85min: One more substitute as Al-Sahlawi makes way for Aseri. Golovin still putting in a shift, making good on his match-leading 11.5km distance ran. Probably Russia’s best, most impressive player.
80min: Russia trying to add more goals; Saudi Arabia just wanting it to be all over.
73min: Saudi Arabia almost get one back, but a long shot flies just wide of the top right angle.
72min: And now it’s all over. Big man Dzuyba thumps a header in for Russia’s third and that’s that. Golovin gets his second assist.
70min: Third Russian sub as Smolov makes way for the massive Dzuyba. Just prior, Saudi goalkeeper almost gifts a third to the hosts but gathers his spilled catch.
65min: KSA make their first sub, Al-Mulwallad replaces Otayf. Russia respond with their second change, Kuzyaev on for Samedov.
60min: More of the same as in the first half, with Saudi Arabia regularly turning the ball over, Russia winning corners, and neither team having all that much consistent quality.
46min: No changes at half-time for either team.
HALF-TIME: Russia good value for their 2-0 lead.
43min: Cheryshev doubles Russia’s lead as Saudi Arabia’s defence falls apart. Golovin with another assist. Wait, it’s Zobnin.
35min: Russia counter, Golovin takes on his man, but is tackled brilliantly in the box and the danger is gone.
31min: Zhirkov gives away a lazy free kick just outside the corner of the penalty area. An excellent delivery is headed over by Al-Shahrani.
28min: A succession of midfield turnovers ends up in a long shot well high from Al-Dawsari
24min: Dzagoev, perhaps Russia’s best player picks up a hamstring injury and is forced off. Cheryshev replaces him.
22min: Saudi Arabia counters and almost equalize, but the header trickles just wide with Akinfeev beaten. A couple corners follow, but no danger.
15min: And it’s almost 2-0 as Russia carve the defence open but Al-Mayouf makes a good save. Play may have been offside anyway.
12min: Another Zhirkov corner for Russia, cleared initially, but Gazinskiy heads in at the far post on the second cross from young Golovin, who’s been subject of plenty of transfer rumors.
9min: Golovin threatens from the left, but his cross is blocked. Zhirkov’s follow-up shot also blocked. Another corner, cleared.
7min: Solid possession from Saudi Arabia after an early corner for Russia. Russia then counters. Shots blocked at either end.
KICK-OFF: Festivities are over, the anthems have been sung, and we’re under way!
Football’s back! Sort of.
It’s time for the World Cup, the greatest sporting event on the planet or some such.
Since Chelsea are being particularly frustrating so far this summer, we might as well pay attention to this.
First up, the host nation Russia take on Saudi Arabia in a matchup of what may be the two worst teams at the tournament, or at least the two lowest ranked of all qualifiers by FIFA (Russia at 70 vs. Saudi Arabia at 67).
Russia starting XI:
Akinfeev | Mário Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov, Gazinskiy, Zobnin, Samedov, Golovin, Dzagoev, Smolov
Substitutes from: rest of the squad
That’s former Chelsea player Yuri Zhirkov, the ageless wonder, starting at left back. Golovin has been linked with Chelsea a few times, too.
Saudi Arabia starting XI:
Al-Mayouf | Al-Breik, Al-Shahrani, Om. Hawsawi, Os. Hawsawi, Al-Dawsari, Al-Faraj, Al-Jassim, Al-Shehri, Otayf, Al-Sahlawi
Substitutes from: rest of the squad
Date / Time: Thursday, June 14, 2018, 16:00 BST; 11am EDT
Venue: Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
Referee: Néstor Pitana (Argentina)
On TV: ITV 1 (UK); FOX, Telemundo (USA); elsewhere
Streaming online: ITV Hub (UK); FOX Sports Go, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo; Sling World Cup (USA)
Stay tuned for updates, highlights, etc.
And be excellent to each other.