Russian Federation defeats New Zealand at 1st Match of FIFA Confederations Cup

This year's tournament is held between June 17 and July 2 at four stadiums in Russian Federation and they are Spartak Stadium in Moscow, St. Petersburg Stadium, Fisht Stadium in Sochi and the Kazan Arena in Kazan.

Midfielder Denis Glushakov flicked the ball over goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic in the 31st minute as New Zealand defenders rushed back to try to clear it off the line.

Hosts Russia eased to a 2-0 win over New Zealand on Saturday in the opening match of the Confederations Cup, a tournament seen as a test for the country before it stages next year's World Cup.

The event kicks off on Saturday with host team Russian Federation meeting New Zealand in the tournament's opening game in St. Petersburg.

It would mean they would nearly certainly need to get at least a draw against world No 17 Mexico, and probably a win given their last group match was against European champions Portugal.

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.

Russian Federation made sure of victory in the second half, with Fyodor Smolov's third goal in four internationals ensuring president Vladimir Putin, who called for improved performances in the event, was applauding happily in the stands.

The Russian president made it a national priority to win hosting rights for the 2018 World Cup in a fierce Federation Internationale de Football Association bidding contest seven years ago.

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"However, we were playing against a very strong Russian team".

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

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

Russia's next game comes up against European champions Portugal on Wednesday, while New Zealand will face Mexico also on Wednesday.

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. A three-player race to meet the rebound off a post saw the sliding Boxall's trailing right arm get the final touch in a bundle of bodies.

Playing in the tournament for the first time, Russian Federation were on the front foot and had two early chances cleared off the line in the opening 10 minutes.

Russia's victory showed it can win a big game at home, even if Putin is in the arena.

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