Russia World Cup ready to kick off with grand opening ceremony

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North America will host the 2026 World Cup after Federation Internationale de Football Association voters overwhelmingly opted Wednesday for the financial and logistical certainty of a United States-led bid over a risky Moroccan proposal for the first 48-team tournament.

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.

After Cheryshev's first goal, Artyom Dzyuba made an instant impact off the bench to make it 3-0 in the 71st with a header from Golovin's cross.

Cheryshev hammered in a fourth with the outside of his left in stoppage time and Golovin capped a magnificent performance by bending in a last-gasp free-kick.

Ahead of tomorrow's World Cup in Russia, FIFA has announced that the U.S., Mexico, and Canada have won a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup, reports NBC.

Iran have qualified for back-to-back World Cups for the first time and will be heading to their fifth World Cup finals.

Russian Federation even overcame the setback of losing midfielder Alan Dzagoev to a 22nd-minute injury by scoring again through Denis Cheryshev (twice) and Artem Dzyuba to record a convincing victory. An opening ceremony before the match will feature Will Smith singing Live It Up, the official anthem of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

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Health officials have issued an air quality alert in southwestern Colorado because of heavy smoke from a wildfire. So far firefighters have been able to keep it west of Highway 550, and until Friday it was east of Hermosa Creek.

In a World Cup first, the video assistant referee system was available for the match between the tournament's lowest-ranked teams, though it wasn't used.

The majority of the 80 matches in the North American bid would be played in the United States, who hosted the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

But with the five goals against the Saudis, a draw could be enough against either of its two remaining opponents.

The win for Russian Federation is a big boost to its hopes of advancing, but it will still face a tough test against Egypt on June 19 and Uruguay six days later.

Russian Federation meet Egypt in their next match on Jun 19 in Saint Petersburg, while Saudi Arabia will look to rebound against group favourites Rostov-on-Don a day later.

Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi had earlier said that Saudi Arabia would play without fear on Thursday.

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