Russia relieved after passing first World Cup test

Poloz had yet another chance to get a goal soon after but once again he was denied by the impressive Marinovic, who really kept the score down for his side.

Starting on Saturday, Russia is hosting the Confederations Cup, the main warm-up event for next year's World Cup.

Putin, who urged Russian Federation to improve their performances in the build-up to the tournament, seemed to enjoy the match and was seen happily applauding Smolov's strike as he sat in the stands alongside FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

"Obviously in the first game of the tournament we wanted to get a better result than we did", New Zealand manager Anthony Hudson said.

"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 lovely play".

They tried to get a second before half-time but the New Zealand defence stood strong but going the other way they offered next to nothing as all they done for most of the half was hit the ball long to Chris Wood, who was very isolated up front and would need more support in the second half.

Russia's win eases the pressure on its second game, against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in Moscow on Wednesday. "I don't know if it played a part or not".

Russia's coach suggested it was an advantage to have such a pep talk.

Russian Federation says it welcomes measures to cut out racism in football after a FIFA initiative ahead of the Confederations Cup to give referees authority to abandon games over player abuse. The European champion opens its Group A program on Sunday against Mexico in Kazan.

Russia's Fedor Smolov celebrates scoring their second goal against New Zealand in the Fifa Confederations Cup match in St Petersburg, June 17, 2017.

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

Russia's opening goal had an ugly finish after two pretty pieces of individual skill once the All-Whites defense needlessly lost the ball.

Dmitry Poloz then went down under a challenge from New Zealand goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic in the area, but the Colombian referee waved away the penalty appeals and there was no intervention from the video assistant.

From Russia's fourth corner, defender Viktor Vasin's header saw the ball spin off a post and across the goalmouth before Michael McGlinchey cleared.

  • Julie Sanders