Russian Federation eases to 2-0 Confederations Cup win over New Zealand

Russia will play New Zealand in a Confederations Cup Group A soccer match scheduled for Saturday June 17. (AP

KAZINFORM The main annual global football tournament among national teams - the FIFA Confederations Cup - kicks off in Russian Federation on June 17, Kazinform has learnt from TASS.

The 8-nation tournament features the host nation, 2014 World Cup victor Germany and champions of FIFA's six continental governing bodies.

Russian Federation cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win over New Zealand as the hosts made a confident start to the Confederations Cup.

The FIFA Confederations Cup is being held in Russian Federation for the first time and the "Tournament of Champions" is in effect a test-run for the largest sporting event in the world, the FIFA World Cup.

Russia's preparations for the World Cup were "proceeding well", Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Hosts Russia got their Confederations Cup campaign off to the flawless start, easing to victory against a toothless New Zealand in St Petersburg.

But Russia sealed victory in the 69th minute when New Zealand fail to react fast enough to Samedov squared pass across goal - and there was Fedor Smolov to slot home unmarked from just a few yards out.

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It is never wise to disobey Vladimir Putin and Russia's players ensured his midweek warning was not ignored as they kicked off the Confederations Cup in style, beating New Zealand with a performance far more emphatic than the 2-0 scoreline suggested.

"So, we're slightly deflated but the team showed a lot of spirit".

Having played his last test match on June 9 against the Chilean team, the Russian team as a whole looked good.

Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio was in no mood to deflate the importance of El Tri's Confederations Cup opener on Sunday against European champions Portugal in Kazan Arena.

A new pitch had to be hastily laid before kick-off after uprooted chunks of grass and bare spots on the field spoiled the first match held at the new venue in April. Let me remind you that Russian Federation rivals: New Zealand, Portugal and Mexico. Though 50,251 were in St. Petersburg Stadium that still left more than 10,000 empty seats.

"I liked New Zealand's team but luckily we managed to cancel out their strengths and displayed ours, and that was the key to our win tonight", Cherchesov said.

While Germany are resting their senior players for the tournament, the Confederations Cup will benefit from the star appeal of Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

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