Russian Federation delivers win for Putin to open Confederations Cup

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New Zealand rallied briefly and midfielder Ryan Thomas forced Russian keeper Igor Akinfeev into a smart save, but in reality Russia ran out comfortable winners and could have added more goals late on.

Russian Federation convincingly beat New Zealand 2-0 at the St Petersburg stadium in front of 50,251 people, including President Vladimir Putin and FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who addressed the crowd before kickoff.

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.

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.

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Federation Internationale de Football Association general secretary Fatma Samoura said on Friday that the estimated attendance for the tournament would be 65 percent, and that Russia's match against European champions Portugal had been sold out for weeks. 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.

Russia's win certainly eased the pressure on winning its second game, against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in Moscow on Wednesday. Tommy Smith then tidied up when Poloz poked a close-range shot slowly past Marinovic.

The opening ceremony turned the St. Petersburg Arena into the setting for a spectacular and bright show, with more than 2,000 actors involved in the performance.

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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 said.

"It is a little hard for the players", Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said.

After New Zealand lost possession in a unsafe area, Poloz's neat touch released Glushakov, who clipped his finish over Marinovic and off the post before Boxall bundled the ball into his own net as he and Smith frantically tried to clear.

Both teams are going to make debut in this edition of FIFA Confederations Cup.

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