Google Doodle celebrates diverse cultures for World Cup kickoff

Achilles the cat lies on a table after attempting to predict the result of the opening match of the FIFA World Cup 2018

Achilles the cat lies on a table after attempting to predict the result of the opening match of the FIFA World Cup 2018

The first day of the 2018 World Cup is upon us, with hosts Russian Federation taking on Saudi Arabia in the tournament's opening game in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

Alan Dzagoev had been at the heart of things but had to go off after pulling a hamstring in the 23rd minute.

They said what? "I would like to underscore that we are grateful to our squad with how they fulfilled our goals, how they played in a relaxed game under the pressure stemming from this being an opening match".

It was Russia's first World Cup win since 2002 and ended a seven-game winless run overall.

Then at 6am, it's potentially the best group game of the entire tournament, when European powerhouses Spain and Portugal do battle in a mouth-watering breakfast-time clash.

Those fears were soon washed away, at least for the time being, as Alexander Samedov and Fedor Smolov carved out early chances only to be denied by desperate sliding blocks.

After Russia scored the first goal of the tournament, president Vladimir Putin gave Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman a shrug and a handshake that was captured by cameras.

Edmonton's hopes of becoming a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup rest on a final vote Wednesday morning in Moscow.

Russian Federation dominated in front of a sell-out crowd of 78,011 - and millions more on TV - at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium and also overcame a major blow when forward Alan Dzagoev had to limp off midway through the first half with what appeared to be left hamstring injury.

Two-goal hero Denis Cheryshev celebrates victory with teammates after Russia's 5-0 rout of Saudi Arabia.

Collecting a pass from Roman Zobnin on the left of the box he showed great composure to nonchalantly dink the ball inches above two prone defenders desperately sliding in, before lashing into the roof of the net.

The forward was soon replaced by Dzyuba, who struck nearly immediately by heading another Golovin cross beyond a helpless Muaiouf in the 71st minute.

Iury Gazinsky opened the scoring before Man of the Match Cheryshev and Dzyuba also found the net, and Cheryshev and Alexandr Golovin struck in stoppage-time to help Russian Federation end a winless run of seven games and make sure they have a chance to advance into the knock-out stages. Egypt and Uruguay play on Friday (Saturday NZT) in Yekaterinburg.