Russian Federation 2-0 New Zealand: Hosts win Confederations Cup Group A opener

Russia New Zealand primed for Confederations Cup opener in Saint Petersburg

World champions Germany and the champions from FIFA's six confederations are competing in the two-week tournament that will allow Russian Federation to test its soccer infrastructure in four of the 11 cities hosting World Cup matches.

An own goal by Michael Boxall and an easy tap-in by Fedor Smolov was all Russian Federation needed to defeat Oceania side New Zealand in the opening fixture of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Russian Federation went ahead in the first half of the Group A encounter through what was credited as an own goal from the New Zealand defender Michael Boxall, and Smolov wrapped up the victory in the 69th minute.

Russian Federation are now top of Group A, which has Portugal and Mexico also in it - who both will play the second match of the group on Sunday.

Marinovic denied Aleksandr Bukharov from point-blank range, but Russian Federation were untroubled throughout and now turn their attention to a crucial clash against Portugal on Wednesday.

It was the ideal start for the Russians in a game played at the new Krestovsky Stadium, where President Vladimir Putin and Federation Internationale de Football Association chief Gianni Infantino both gave speeches before kick-off.

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson admitted to being "slightly deflated" after his side were convincingly outplayed in going down 2-0 to host nation Russian Federation in the Confederations Cup opener.

Ten minutes before kickoff, both teams lined up in front of the main stand to listen speeches by Putin and FIFA President Gianni Infantino.


Cherchesov felt president Putin's pre-match speech which ended with the proclamation, "Dear friends, let us watch football!"

"We knew the scenario with who was coming to the game", New Zealand coach Anthony Hudson said.

Ronaldo will be able to focus his fans' minds on playing after widespread suggestions this week he wants to leave Real Madrid and Spain, where his tax affairs are under investigation.

In the only match played Saturday, Smolov took his chance to shine.

Along with Team Russia, they will welcome teams from seven countries: New Zealand, Portugal, Mexico (Group A); and Germany, Chile, Cameroon and Australia (Group B).

Russia's opening goal had an ugly finish after two pretty pieces of individual skill once the All-Whites defense needlessly lost the ball.

A chest-high pass to forward Dmitry Poloz was deftly guided into the path of Denis Glushakov who chipped the ball over onrushing goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic. The president prefers ice hockey and saw a team that carried fervent hopes of an Olympic title lose on home ice in the quarterfinals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

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