Russian Federation 2-0 New Zealand: Hosts win Confederations Cup Group A opener

Host nation Russian Federation beat New Zealand 2-0 on the opening day of the Confederations Cup as they played in the tournament for the first time.

The Spartak Moscow midfielder clipped the ball over the goalkeeper and bundled it into the net, although replays showed the final touch came off defender Michael Boxall's sliding body.

After addressing the crowd at the end of another dismal opening ceremony, Putin sat back alongside Federation Internationale de Football Association president Gianni Infantino and expected to be entertained.

Smolov was named Budweiser Man of the Match, while New Zealand now have two unwanted Tournament of Champions records to their name, having gone 513 minutes without scoring in the competition and ten matches without winning.

And Fedor Smolov sealed victory with 21 minutes remaining, finishing simply from six yards after starting a move that led to the hapless Boxall failing to clear Samedov's threatening right-wing cross.

SOCHI, Russia (AP) - FIFA has warned Mexico about the conduct of its fans after discriminatory chants at the Confederations Cup.

"We have visited Moscow and the St. Petersburg stadium and I can say that every technical detail there has been fine-tuned and we can expect one of the best competitions ever here in Russian Federation", said the Senegalese FIFA official.

"The fact the leader of the country came to the match is on the one hand an additional positive, but it is also an additional responsibility", Russian Federation manager Stanislav Cherchesov said.

The over 68,000-seat capacity stadium created to host the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup matches was laid down in the western portion of Krestovsky Island in St. Petersburg in 2007.

"We're all feeling courageous and will take things on full of optimism".

Putin, fully aware of the discord between fans and arguably the worst Russian Federation team in a generation, went on national television on Thursday and told Stanislav Cherchesov's players to shape up, sharpish.

"They are gentlemen, they compete well and hopefully we can match their determination to compete for every single ball. We could have been more aggressive". "We're very optimistic coming into this tournament".

"It will be worth the cost if, in five years time we can look back and say there were no discriminatory incidents in Russian football and that a dialogue has begun amongst people for what they want for their country", he says.

Heavyweights Germany will clash with Asian Cup champions Australia, Africa Cup of Nations winners Cameroon and Copa America holders Chile in Group B.

"In some regards they have that team spirit that represents not only New Zealand and their national soccer teams but also the All Blacks and their rugby teams".

  • Joanne Flowers