WILLIAMS KICKS IT ALL OFF
Butch is still at the back on BA Tatchell held for Chechnya demo On target to end shoot-out curse
not just the most beautiful sport – people here truly love it.”
Security was the tightest yet at a World Cup match and fans went through airport-style checks – including metal detectors and body searches – to get into the stadium.
Deputy Emergencies Minister Vladlen Aksyonov said supporters are being guarded by 40,000 police and military personnel and 4,400 response vehicles in Russia’s biggest security operation in modern times.
And thanks to the huge effort, the opening was trouble-free. World Cup security chief Alexei Lavrishchev said: “The security measures we are taking are unprecedented.
“They are based on our own experience of providing security for such events, plus international experience.
“There are measures in place to ensure fans, tourists and Russian citizens will feel comfortable and safe.”
President Putin watched the tournament spark into life with a goal for his nation against Saudi Arabia in the first 15 minutes, then a second before half-time. Three more in the second half left Russia fans ecstatic as their players confounded low expectations.
In the build-up to the match, one Russian commentator had called the side – which had not won in its previous seven matches, losing six of them – their “worst ever”.
But there was a carnival atmosphere inside and outside the stadium before and after the game.
Fans from dozens of countries, many wearing national dress, sang and posed for photos together – although no supporters from England were seen.
Russia remains on alert and large-scale drills were held last month amid terror fears.
Tournament venue Volgograd is in the sights of Islamic State because it is close to the North Caucasus region, which supplied more than 3,500 fighters for the regime in Iraq and Syria. IS militants issued chilling threats, which include images of a slain Vladimir Putin and Argentine player Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo being beheaded. They came after IS claimed responsibility for an attack in Nizhny Novgorod earlier this year, where England play Panama on June 24. Meanwhile, US pop star Jason Derulo, 28, missed the ceremony, despite promising to sing the official tournament song. Officials said his connecting flight to Moscow was delayed, leaving him stranded. At the Three Lions base in Repino, England stars spent the day relaxing and many watched the match. Others – including Jesse Lingard, 25, Trent Alexanderarnold, 19, and Gary Cahill, 32 – went bowling and played darts with members of the media. TV PRESENTER Gary Lineker flew business class to Moscow – while his fellow Beeb pundit Terry Butcher was in economy on the same flight.
The ex-england team-mates were on Tuesday morning’s BA service. Prices quoted yesterday put business at £3,664 and economy at £1,224.
A BBC spokesperson said: “Travel arrangements are agreed as part of overall contract negotiations.” CAMPAIGNER Peter Tatchell was detained in Moscow yesterday.
The 66-year-old tried to stage a solo protest near Red Square to highlight human rights abuses with a sign reading: “Putin fails to act against Chechnya torture of gay people.”
He was held for almost two hours and bailed to appear in court on June 26 but he was told he “will be free to leave” Russia as planned on June 18. ENGLAND are using a special training goal as they aim to break their World Cup penalty shoot-out hoodoo.
The four corners are marked with semi-circles for “precision” shooting.
It will be used by Harry Kane, his strike partners, free kick specialists and any likely penalty takers.
England lost on penalties during the 1990, 1998 and 2006 World Cups and the Euros in 1996, 2004 and 2012.
SCORE DRAW Favourite Robbie belts out his hits yesterday RUDE BOY Gesture in Rock DJ TOP SQUAD With Garifullina and Ronaldo CLASS DIVIDE Butcher and Lineker ARRESTED Brit activist Peter Tatchell
HE SHOOTS Cahill enjoys game of darts HAVING A BALL Lingard goes bowling
PRACTISE Coach Steve Holland & goal