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

Russia topple New Zealand in opening fixture of FIFA Confederations Cup

Michael Boxall got a touch on the ball and was credited with an own goal.

Russia, a record low 63rd in FIFA's world positions, encounter Portugal on Wednesday and also New Zealand play Mexico the same day.

Portugal face Mexico at the Kazan Arena while Cameroon and Chile will meet at the Otkritie Arena in Moscow.

Scoring chances came early for Russian Federation, playing with confidence and unexpected flair, a powerful header by defender Viktor Vasin bouncing off the inside of the post before being cleared by New Zealand's Michael McGlinchey off the line.

Russian Federation deserved its first-half lead after twice having shots stopped on the line in the opening 10 minutes.

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. Tommy Smith then tidied up when Poloz poked a close-range shot slowly past Marinovic.

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Russia President Vladimir Putin watched the Confederations Cup opener with FIFA's Gianni Infantino.

"When the president of your country comes out to make a speech this mobilizes us", said coach Stanislav Cherchesov, a former goalkeeper who played for the national team before and after the fall of communism.

Putin welcomed fans to what he called a "big football festival" and thanked Infantino and FIFA for the faith they had shown in Russian Federation.

"Here, on modern football arenas there will be tough, honest, fair fight until the last minutes of the match", Putin said in Russian, adding that the eight-team, two-week event would "unite nations and continents, to promote the values of fair and attractive play".

The hosts continued to crank up the pressure after the break, forcing the impressive Marinovic into a fantastic double save, but Russian pressure finally told when Krasnodar striker Smolov - top scorer in the Russia Premier League for the past two seasons - tapped home from an Aleksandr Samedov cross on 69 minutes. He 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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