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

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Russia, playing New Zealand in Group A to kick off the cup, scored in the 31st minute through Denis Glushakov.

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The eight-team Confederations Cup which runs until July 2 in St Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan and Sochi is being seen as a test for Russian Federation ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

St. Petersburg, June 17 (IANS) An official opening ceremony for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russian Federation was held in front of packed spectators stands of the newly-built football stadium in the countrys second largest city of St Petersburg.

An own-goal from Michael Boxall and Fedor Smolov's second-half strike sealed all three points for new coach Stanislav Cherchesov's side as the tournament hosts impressed at the Krestovsky Stadium. Portugal and Mexico are other teams in Group A and will face-off on Sunday, June 18.

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"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, whose team face Portugal on Wednesday, told reporters. We played the match we have been planning for.

"For us it is very important to make people in the country fall in love with the national team", said Smolov, the 27-year-old FC Krasnodar forward who was named the game's best player.

"First of all, let me express gratitude to [FIFA President] Gianni Infantino for being committed to the sport ideals and for helping in the preparations of this landmark event", Putin said at the opening ceremony of the cup.

"The first half was quite scrappy - I think certainly the first goal was preventable, we gave the ball away in a really bad area".

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Chile's star player Arturo Vidal fiercely argued with referee Damir Skomina when a goal scored in first-half stoppage time by Eduardo Vargas was overruled nearly one minute later.

Russia, a record low 63rd in FIFA's world rankings, face Portugal on Wednesday while New Zealand play Mexico the same day.

Russia's opening goal had an ugly finish after two pretty pieces of individual skill once the All-Whites defense needlessly lost the ball. "Even if the right decision was reached it has an impact on the players".

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