Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Russian Federation begin Confederations Cup campaign with easy win over New Zealand


Russian Federation take on New Zealand in St. Petersburg in the first match of the eight-nation Confederations Cup on a pitch that had to be hastily relaid after football officials deplored its quality when it cut up badly during a match there in April.

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) - What Vladimir Putin wants, Vladimir Putin tends to get.

Russian fan leader Alexander Shprygin, who was deported from France during Euro 2016, told Reuters on Saturday that he had been barred from attending his country's match against New Zealand just a few hours before kickoff.

Russian Federation kicked off the Confederations Cup by beating New Zealand in a game over-shadowed by referee Wilmar Roldan failing to make use of the video review system. The win puts them top of Group A, with Mexico and Portugal - the other two teams in the section - due to face off on Sunday.

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Let me remind you that Russian Federation rivals: New Zealand, Portugal and Mexico.

"First of all, let me express gratitude to [FIFA President] Gianni Infantino for being committed to the sport ideals and for helping in the preparations of this landmark event", Putin said at the opening ceremony of the cup.

Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo runs during a training session ahead of the Russian Federation 2017 Confederation Cup football tournament in Kazan on Saturday. "All we need is to play with great devotion, to do our best - then everything will be OK", he said.

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

"I thought I scored the opening goal but it doesn't really matter who was credited for it", Glushakov said.

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).

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. The competition serves as a warm-up for the World Cup, played out a year before the sport's largest event.

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