Russian Federation eases to 2-0 Confederations Cup win over New Zealand

Russian Federation eases to 2-0 Confederations Cup win over New Zealand

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) - Host nation Russia beat a poor New Zealand team 2-0 on Saturday to open the Confederations Cup with a win that was all but demanded by Vladimir Putin.

An own goal by Michael Boxall and an easy tap-in by Fedor Smolov was all Russian Federation needed to defeat Oceania side New Zealand in the opening fixture of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Group A rivals Portugal and Mexico meet in Kazan on Sunday. The competition will serve as a dress rehearsal for the 2018 World Cup, and Russian Federation would certainly love to get off to a good start on the pitch.

Russia's famed Hermitage Museum has chosen one of its resident cats to predict the results of an upcoming worldwide football tournament.

He said Confederations Cup organisers had notified him that his fan-ID, needed to attend matches, had been cancelled in what appeared to be a further attempt to curb violence. Michael Boxall got a touch on the ball and was credited with an own goal.

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.

"We are slightly deflated", the Englishman said in the post-match press conference.

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New Zealand are now without a win in 10 Confederations Cup matches and struggled to make an attacking impression.

Ronaldo has scored 12 goals in six worldwide outings since coming off injured in the Euro final, but Mexico - winners of the Confederations Cup in 1999 - are confident they can stop him.

Russian Federation will look to pounce on New Zealand immediately, taking complete advantage of their home support. But after their impressive run of form to the final of Euro 2016, Portugal are preparing to add a second major trophy for their national team. We're all feeling courageous and will take things on full of optimism.

"This is why we play all of the hard games in the Islands".

Now the Madrid sports media is awash with headlines suggesting Ronaldo wants out of the Spanish champions, despite only signing a new contract through to 2021 in November.

While Germany are resting their senior players for the tournament, the Confederations Cup will benefit from the star appeal of Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

According to the draw, Group A includes Russia, New Zealand, Portugal and Mexico, Group B - Chile, Australia and Germany.

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