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

Hosts Russia kick off the Confederations Cup against New Zealand in St Petersburg today, targeting victory in their opening match to set the tone for a successful tournament.Russian Federation went ahead in the first half of the Group A encounter through what was credited as an own goal from the New Zealand defender Michael Boxall, and Smolov wrapped up the victory in the 69th minute.The 20-minute ceremony involved some 1,500 participants, who displayed various scenes of traditions and culture of four cities in Russian Federation, selected to host the global football tournament this year, reported Tass news agency.Nearly 25 minutes into the second half, Russian forward Fedor Smolov cannoned another goal for his team after having received a flawless assist from Alexander Samedov.The 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup will be held in Russian Federation through July 2 in four host cities – Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, and Sochi.”I believe we will have the same team as we did in this game against Portugal”.The tournament, which first took place in 2005, is being held in the country hosting the World Cup next year.Russia Playing XI: 1 Igor AKINFEEV (C) (GK), 5 Viktor VASIN, 6 Georgy DZHIKYA, 7 Dmitry POLOZ, 8 Denis GLUSHAKOV, 9 Fedor SMOLOV, 13 Fedor KUDRIASHOV, 17 Aleksandr GOLOVIN, 18 Yury ZHIRKOV, 19 Alexander SAMEDOV, 21 Aleksandr EROKHIN.With three points, Russian Federation will next face Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal in Moscow on Wednesday.It was the ideal start for the Russians in a game played at the new Krestovsky Stadium, where President Vladimir Putin and Federation Internationale de Football Association chief Gianni Infantino both gave speeches before kick-off.Group A rivals Portugal and Mexico meet in Kazan on Sunday.Russia’s opening goal had an ugly finish after two pretty pieces of individual skill once the All-Whites defense needlessly lost the ball.Putin also stressed Russia’s “responsibility and decisiveness to hold the Confederations Cup at the top level”.Cherchesov felt president Putin’s pre-match speech – which ended with the proclamation “Dear friends, let us watch football!”Russian President Vladimir Putin and FIFA President Gianni Infantino officially opened the tournament. The president 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.