Russian Federation beat New Zealand as FIFA Confederation Cup begins


Fedor Smolov (R) celebrates after scoring Russia's second goal during the Confederations Cup Group "A" match against New Zealand at the Krestovsky Stadium on Saturday.

Russian Federation were dominant throughout the game, and they took the lead in the 31st-minute, as Kiwi defender Michael Boxall credited with an own-goal after a blunder by a fellow defender.

There's heavy pressure on Russian Federation to perform at the Confederations Cup, and with a slew of dignitaries in attendance on Saturday, the home team delivered. They hardly needed to be in dispatching No. 95 New Zealand, which seemed to find the world stage too big.

Russia's midfielder Denis Glushakov (C back) is congratulated after scoring the first goal of the match during the 2017 Confederations Cup group A football match between Russian Federation and New Zealand at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint-Petersburg on June 17, 2017.

New Zealand will look to pick themselves up ahead of their next game against Mexico in Sochi's Fisht Stadium on Wednesday, before returning to St. Petersburg for their last group game against Portugal on Saturday.

The Kiwis threatened only with back-to-back chances in the 78th minute: A powerful Ryan Thomas shot saved by Russian Federation captain Igor Akinfeev and Tommy Smith's header blocked on the line.

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When the goal came, it had an ugly finish after two pretty pieces of individual skill once the All-Whites defense needlessly lost the ball.

From Russia's fourth corner, defender Viktor Vasin's header saw the ball spin off a post and across the goalmouth before Michael McGlinchey cleared.

New Zealand's goalkeeper Marinovic, who plays in the German lower leagues, did well to keep the Oceania champions in the game in the second half, producing a fine double save from Poloz and Yerokhin and then turning away another effort from Rostov forward Poloz.

What we can not afford is another situation like the Vargas goal, when a perfectly legitimate goal is scored and acknowledged as such by the on-field referee only to be discarded in the mistaken belief it was offside.

Moscow: Alexis Sanchez has sprained his ankle in training and may miss Chile's Confederations Cup opener against Cameroon. Portugal has many good players along with Ronaldo. Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has not played since sustaining a calf injury in April, and has been ruled out of Sunday's game.

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