Singer does win­ning turn at Un­fan­cied hosts thump World Cup open­ing cer­e­mony Saudi 5-0 in first match

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - NEWS - BY ANDY LINES Chief Re­porter in Moscow and JEREMY ARM­STRONG in Repino

The jour­nal­ist who dubbed the Rus­sia v Saudi Ara­bia match “El Ga­sico” be­cause the two coun­tries rely on en­ergy ex­ports. Nike who stopped sup­ply­ing Iran’s foot­ballers with boots due to sanc­tions. Ira­nian of­fi­cials point out the same com­pany sup­plied the team at the 2014 World Cup when sanc­tions ex­isted. 89% of tick­ets have been snapped up for the 64 matches at the fi­nals. Erika Chop­er­ena is the wife of France player An­toine Griez­mann. The Span­ish psy­chol­o­gist wed the star in 2017. ROB­BIE Williams showed the world how to Party Like a Rus­sian as he kicked off the World Cup in style yes­ter­day.

The singer, 44, found the back of the net with his stun­ning per­for­mance dur­ing the tour­na­ment’s open­ing cer­e­mony.

And hosts Rus­sia – the low­est-ranked team – kept the party go­ing with an as­ton­ish­ing 5-0 de­mo­li­tion of Saudi Ara­bia in the first match. Cel­e­bra­tions went on all night and some bars in Moscow of­fered free vodka to help fans cel­e­brate their in­cred­i­ble Group A win. Ear­lier, Rob­bie wowed a crowd of 78,011 at the cap­i­tal’s Luzh­niki Sta­dium and hun­dreds of mil­lions of TV view­ers with a set made up of Let me En­ter­tain You, An­gels, Rock DJ and Feel.

The for­mer Take That star, who was joined on stage by Rus­sian so­prano Aida Gar­i­ful­lina, 30, has toured the na­tion be­fore and got a rap­tur­ous re­cep­tion.

He did not sing his hit Party Like a Rus­sian, which is crit­i­cal of oli­garchs. But some fans saw red over him swear­ing and mak­ing a rude ges­ture dur­ing Rock DJ.

It was un­clear if Rob­bie was paid for his per­for­mance – but a line change in Rock DJ seemed to sug­gest he did it for noth­ing.

He usu­ally sings “Pimp­ing ain’t easy, most of them fleece me” but his time added in “but I did this for free”.

For­mer Brazil striker Ron­aldo, 41, who scored 15 goals over three World Cups, also fea­tured in the launch.

There was a smat­ter­ing of boos as Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin got up to ad­dress the crowd. But most of the fans lis­tened qui­etly and cheered when he fin­ished.

Mr Putin said: “Love for foot­ball unites the en­tire world in one team, re­gard­less of peo­ple’s lan­guage or ide­ol­ogy. This grand sport­ing event is tak­ing place in Rus­sia for the first time and we are truly happy. In our coun­try, foot­ball is not just a pop­u­lar sport,

SHEIKH ON IT Putin greets Saudi guest ON ALERT Se­cu­rity TRO­PHY GIRL Fans with replica cup at sta­dium

STRIKER Rus­sia fan flies flag at Luzh­niki Sta­dium

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