English pop star Robbie Williams, former Brazil striker Ronaldo — scorer of 15 goals over three tournaments — and Russia soprano Aida Garifullina were the star attractions at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium before the opening match of Russia 2018 kicked off.
Thirty minutes before the Group A opener between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia, the show began with a performance of work by celebrated Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky.
Williams then gave proceedings a more modern twist by singing “Let Me Entertain You.”
Russian musicians featured heavily, from harpist and composer Alexander Boldachev to pianist Daniil Trifonov and Garifullina, who performed a duet with Williams. The pair sang the pop star’s worldwide hit “Angels.”
Ronaldo and World Cup mascot Zabivaka made a symbolic first kick with an official match ball — a ball which was sent into space with an International Space Station in March, returning to earth on June 3.
Around 800 people performed in a ceremony which celebrated the start of football’s showpiece event. A tournament which will feature 32 teams competing in 64 games across 11 cities.