Putin present to see Russia kick off Confederations Cup

FIFA Confederations Cup What you need to know									
					Cristiano Ronaldo

FIFA Confederations Cup What you need to know Cristiano Ronaldo

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.

Dmitri Poloz set up the chance with a through ball to Denis Glushakov, who tried to chip All Whites goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic.

Russian Federation took the lead on 31 minutes after New Zealand lost possession in their own half.

Weak defending also allowed Russia's Fedor Smolov to slip past the All Whites and tap in a low cross by team-mate Alexander Samedov to confirm the win in the 69th minute.

The championship game will be played on July 2 in St. Petersburg.

Stoke City legend Alan Hudson could never have imagined he would get so excited about a game between Russian Federation and New Zealand in St Petersburg.

With three points, Russian Federation will next face Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in Moscow on Wednesday.

President Vladimir Putin, for whom the tournament and the World Cup are prestige projects, said Thursday: "Let us hope that the guys will try to perform well, like real fighters".

The former Russian worldwide goalkeeper has set his squad the ambitious task of winning the Confed Cup, a tournament that serves as a tune-up for next year's World Cup.

"The team's recent matches show that we have some potential", Putin said in comments carried by state news agency TASS.

Fyodor Smolov both began and ended a counter-attack which put the result beyond doubt in the second half, with Russian Federation now turning their attention to a game against Portugal on Thursday. "And we've took the full-scale measures to assure the event's security".

Federation Internationale de Football Association secretary-general Fatma Samoura said that curbing problems now is "exactly the whole purpose" of anti-discrimination work at the World Cup rehearsal tournament.

"For us it is very important to make people in the country fall in love with the national team", said Smolov, the 27-year-old FC Krasnodar forward who was named the game's best player.

Portugal manager Fernando Santos has suggested that he will rotate his squad through the group stages, with the final game in particular against New Zealand likely to see plenty of changes in personnel.

"The game didn't go how we wanted to go", New Zealand coach Anthony Hudson acknowledged.

New Zealand is now without a win in four trips to the Confederations Cup, and next plays Mexico on Wednesday in Sochi.

The incidents sparked further fears about hooliganism at the Confederations Cup and the World Cup in 2018.

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