The forced change turned out to be inspired as Cheryshev got on the score-sheet in the 43rd minute to become the first ever substitute to score in the opening game of a World Cup.
Villain Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the tournament by welcoming fans to "open, hospitable and friendly" Russia.
Russian police briefly detained a British LGBT rights campaigner in central Moscow for what they said was an illegal protest on the first day of the World Cup soccer tournament.
Hosts Russia will kick off their World Cup campaign against Saudi Arabia on June 14.
Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Bolivian President Evo Morales, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov were some of the political heavyweights at the event.
Saudi Arabia were made to pay again for their defensive frailties when Russian Federation extended their lead through a headed goal by Artem Dzyuba in the 71st minute.
Russian fans did not have a lot of faith in their team after meagre results but the Luzhniki erupted for the first time in the 12th when Gazinsky rose unmarked to head a long cross from the left by Golovin into the bottom left corner.
Domino's to fill literal potholes to make takeout easier
When a town is selected , the customer is notified and the city receives funds to help with the repairs. The good publicity will be a welcome change for Domino's following an incident last month in Tennessee.
It was Gazinsky's first goal of his worldwide career. Sensing that a sliding tackle was imminent, the Villarreal star used his first touch to dink the ball over his opponent before going on to power home Russia's second goal of the game.
"We have to take all the criticism and turn it into something positive", Cherchesov said.
The World Cup got under way after British pop singer Robbie Williams took centre stage at the opening ceremony.
One concern for Russian Federation is that creative midfielder Alan Dzagoev picked up a suspected hamstring injury, but that was what allowed Cheryshev to come off the bench and change the game.
Egypt and Uruguay are due to play the second Group A match in Yekaterinburg on Friday. In a frantic game in which both teams looked amateurish at times, Saudia Arabia turned in one of the worst defensive performances in recent memory and would've been punished even more harshly by a better side.
Pizzi was appointed to the job after Saudi Arabia qualified past year for the finals.
"We are focused on the opening game, that will set the tone for the other games".