Russian Federation relieved after passing first World Cup test

Russia's midfielder Denis Glushakov (L) vies for the ball against New Zealand's defender Michael Boxall during the 2017 Confederations Cup group A football match between Russian Federation and New Zealand at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint-Petersburg on June 17, 2017.

Russia's Denis Glushakov, top, chips the ball over New Zealand goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic to score the opening goal during the Confederations, Cup Group A soccer match between Russian Federation and New Zealand, at the St.Petersburg st. We played the match we have been planning for. But we're a great side too, and I'm sure we can stop him.

"Regarding Ronaldo, he is motivated, and what I can see is that he is taking the competition very seriously and is totally dedicated to training and thinking about the next game against Mexico", Silva told reporters ahead of the European champions' opening game.

New Zealand lost possession 30 yards out, Aleksandr Erokhin and Dmitry Poloz quickly combined passes before putting through Denis Glushakov. 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.

Russian Federation were on the front foot early and had two chances cleared off the line in the opening 10 minutes.

Russian president Vladimir Putin officially got the tournament underway by addressing the crowd at the Krestovsky stadium, but it was far from a full house with a spattering of blue seats visible which will continue to raise questions about whether Russia is a suitable host for the tournament, and indeed the World Cup in a year's time.

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.

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.

"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.

  • Julie Sanders