SPORTS DAY: Russia crush Saudis in opening-day rout


SPORTS DAY: Russia crush Saudis in opening-day rout

Your roundup of the sporting news of the day

Sports reporter

Russia thrash Saudi Arabia in Cup opener
Finally let loose after a year-long diet of international friendlies, hosts Russia roared their World Cup intent to the rafters on Thursday with a 5-0 tournament-opening win over Saudi Arabia. The Russians served up an adrenaline-fuelled performance for an 80,000-capacity Luzhniki crowd which included President Vladimir Putin and the Saudi crown prince. The Saudis, ranked three places above Russia at 67 in the world rankings, played some nice, tight football at times, but were never able to match the Russian hosts for energy or intent.
Fans angry as coachless Chiefs release playersKaizer Chiefs have released five players ahead of the new season‚ including No10 Keagan Buchanan. The announcements on Thursday caused a stir among their legion of fans on social media after the club announced the departure of Buchanan, Tsepo Masilela‚ Sibusiso Khumalo‚ Edmond Chirambandare and William Twala despite the head coaching job still being vacant. While the fans approved of the departures‚ most questioned the logic behind releasing players even though the club is coachless‚ thus depriving the new incoming coach an opportunity to form his opinion of the squad that is at his disposal, including the departing five.
City to start title defence at Arsenal 
Premier League champions Manchester City will begin their title defence away to Arsenal on the weekend of August 11-12, the English Premier League announced on Thursday as it unveiled the fixtures for the 2018/19 season.
Erasmus makes two changesSpringbok coach Rassie Erasmus has made two changes to his starting team to play England on Saturday. Pieter-Steph du Toit replaces Jean-Luc du Preez‚ and Frans Malherbe comes in for Wilco Louw.  Former captain Chris Robshaw was axed for the first time by Eddie Jones as the England coach made two changes. Blindside flanker Robshaw loses his place to New Zealand-born Brad Shields, who made his debut off the bench in a 42-39 first Test loss in Johannesburg last weekend. In the only other change to the starting line-up, fit-again lock Joe Launchbury returns in place of Nick Isiekwe.
All Blacks revisit Cardiff calamity 
New Zealand’s shock loss to France at the 2007 World Cup continues to burn deep with the All Blacks drawing on the defeat as motivation for the second Test in Wellington on Saturday. The world champions expect a French backlash after last week’s first Test thrashing, and said the 20-18 defeat in the World Cup quarterfinals 11 years ago had taught them never to underestimate their mercurial opponents.  
Sexton back as Ireland fight to save series
Johnny Sexton was one of eight changes announced by Ireland on Thursday as the Six Nations champions fight to save the series against unchanged Australia in the second Test in Melbourne. Sexton returns to flyhalf in place of Joey Carbery to resume his long-standing partnership with scrumhalf Conor Murray following last week’s 18-9 defeat in Brisbane.
Alvarez-Golovkin rematch back on
Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin will square off in their highly-anticipated rematch in September in Las Vegas, boxing promoter Oscar De La Hoya said on Wednesday. De La Hoya announced the tentative deal for a mid-September showdown at T-Mobile Arena after weeks of on-again and off-again bargaining by the two fighters’ camps. 
Langer says Smith-led Aussies were ‘spoilt brats’New coach Justin Langer says the Australian side were behaving like “spoilt brats” ahead of the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal and Steve Smith wasn’t a strong enough leader to handle the situation. “Once upon a time, the opposition didn’t like us because we played really good, hard cricket — we were very skilful and we won a lot of games. It’s easy to dislike the opposition if they’re good, but there have been too many whispers in the last 12 months or so about the abuse on the field, or dare I say, the side playing like spoilt brats.” 
Gamers can play a part in driving F1’s future
Some of the world’s fastest gamers could soon be driving Formula  One’s future, literally, by testing new ideas on virtual racetracks. The sport is looking into how to make racing more competitive and exciting. Pat Symonds, who is on a panel of experts set up last year, says e-sport can help provide the answers. “In the old days you had four, three (cars abreast), all sorts of things,” Symonds said. “What we want to know is: If we do that (with modern cars and tyres), what’s likely to happen? Are you going to get a much more exciting first lap or are you just going to get a lot of accidents on the first corner and therefore a boring race afterwards?”
Sharapova, Keys withdraw from Birmingham
Maria Sharapova and Madison Keys have withdrawn from next week’s Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham as they look to regain full fitness ahead of Wimbledon.
AFP, Reuters, TimesLIVE

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