A spectacular rocket launch lit up the night sky over a World Cup stadium, prompting Russians to joke that aliens had journeyed to earth to watch the football.
The Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket blazed a trail through the air after it was fired from Plesetsk space centre early on Monday morning.
Footage showed showed an eye-catching display visible from Nizhny Novgorod, where Sweden played South Korea hours later.
The sight prompted fevered speculation among onlookers.
“Is that a rocket, a fireball or a UFO over Nizhny Novgorod? Talk to me comrades, I’m worried,” wrote one social media user.
“The aliens have arrived for the World Cup,” said another.
A third asked: “What the hell was that? It doesn’t look like anything I’ve previously seen.”
The Soyuz-2.1b launched from the space centre in Mirny, Arkhangelsk, at 12.45am on Monday.
It was carrying a Glonass-M navigation satellite, which separated from the rocket about 10 minutes after take-off and later entered orbit.
In a statement Russia's Defence Ministry said: "At 12.46am Moscow time on Sunday, 14 June, a unit of the Space Forces of the Russian Aerospace Forces has conducted a successful launch of the Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with the Glonass-M satellite from Lanch Pad 4 of the Plesetsk space centre."