Hosts Russia and two-time champions Uruguay were pre-tournament favourites to progress in the World Cup 2018 Group A odds and started off with contrasting victories.
Russia powered to a 5-0 rout of rank outsiders Saudi Arabia and were cut to 29/20 to finish top of the table as a result.
However, Uruguay are still market leaders at 53/100 to win this pool, despite having to rely on an 89th-minute header from Jose Gimenez to edge out Egypt 1-0.
The Pharaohs drifted to 13/4 to make the knockout rounds following that loss, but will hope to have Mohamed Salah back from injury for their next game.
We’ve already posted our World Cup 2018 Group A predictions and betting tips for the second round of games.
Standings Group A
Russia may have uncovered a star in man-of-the-match Denis Cheryshev after his double strike versus Egypt.
The 27-year-old Villarreal midfielder only came on when Alan Dzagoev went down with a hamstring injury.
However, his first goal came in the 43rd minute when he calmly cut inside two covering defenders, leaving them both on the floor, and smashed home with his left foot.
The second, in injury time, was even better, as he raced on to a knockdown and curled a shot past the flailing keeper with the outside of his foot from distance.
“I’m happy for me and I’m happy for helping the team and I’m happy for my family, who have suffered so much with my injuries,” beamed the former Real Madrid recruit.
“So I’m extremely happy, but we shouldn’t stop here; if you relax, you are out.”
Yury Gazinsky, Artem Dzyuba and Aleksandr Golovin also netted for the hosts.
Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi was not blown away by Russia’s display, though.
He commented: “I don’t think they did anything to surprise us. They won without doing much – a poor performance explains this result.”
|Russia vs Saudi Arabia||5 - 0||Luzhniki Stadium|
|Egypt vs Uruguay||0 - 1||Ekaterinburg Arena|
|Russia vs Egypt||Saint Petersburg Stadium|
|Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia||Rostov Arena|
|Saudi Arabia vs Egypt||Volgograd Stadium|
|Uruguay vs Russia||Samara Arena|
Uruguay’s star strikers failed to shine early on against Egypt, but Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani did improve after the break.
Pharaohs goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy had to produce two good saves from Suarez and one from Cavani, who also hit the post with a free-kick.
Egypt were playing their first World Cup match since 1990 and looked set to pull off a notable result, only for Gimenez to head the winner from a late set-piece.
Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez said: “I believe some of the players didn’t play as well as they normally can, but this is football and I’m sure the tiny issues will be fine-tuned.”
Egypt boss Hector Cuper told FIFA: “Perhaps if Mo had been on the pitch the outcome would have been different but we can’t know that.
“Certainly, he has contributed a great amount to the team and will contribute in future matches.
“We wanted to avoid any risks in this match, but I think he will be fine for the next game.”