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Russian Federation beat New Zealand in Confederations Cup opener

Russian Federation beat New Zealand in Confederations Cup opener

Russian Federation set out to start the game strongly, and they did so, with Golovin seeing a shot saved and New Zealand twice needing to clear goal-bound efforts from Poloz and Viktor Vasin in the opening 10 minutes.

Portugal and Mexico face off this Sunday, 11 a.m. EST in the opening round of the Confederations Cup at Kazan Arena in Russian Federation.

But Russia did increase their lead with just over 20 minutes left, Smolov finding Samedov on the right and then arriving unmarked in the box to convert his team-mate's cross.

If every host nation could handpick its opponent for the opening game of a major tournament, New Zealand would be close to the top of the list, and Russian Federation did not pass up the opportunity to make a winning start to the Confederations Cup against Oceania's champions.

Putin had also asked the players to perform like warriors, though they hardly needed to be war-like in dispatching No. 95 New Zealand, which seemed to find the world stage too big.

Fedor Smolov celebrates scoring Russia's second goal.

In the case of Eduardo Vargas' goal at the end of the first half - even after multiple replays - there is simply no justifiable way in which you could say that the original decision to award the goal was clearly wrong.

"It's the new rule, and if it brings benefits to football, that's fine", Portugal coach Fernando Santos said.

"We achieved a very good result and at times a very good game".

When the goal came, it had an ugly finish after two pretty pieces of individual skill once the All-Whites defense needlessly lost the ball.

New Zealand nearly clawed themselves back in the game twice - first Ryan Thomas had a brilliant effort saved by Igor Akinfeev and then Tommy Smith had a powerful header cleared off the line by Yuri Zhirkov.

Coming off a disappointing 1-1 draw with the United States at home in their most recent World Cup qualifying match, Mexico is faced with the hard task of trying to bounce back against one of the most competitive teams in the world.

New Zealand is now without a win in four trips to the Confederations Cup, and next plays Mexico on Wednesday in Sochi. Several defenders rushed back to attempt to clear the ball, but after coming off the post it was bundled over the line by defender Michael Boxall.

In front of Vladimir Putin, Russia cruised to a 2-0 victory in the $1.4 billion Krestovsky Stadium.

"When the president of your country comes out to make a speech this mobilizes us", Russian Federation coach Stanislav Cherchesov said through a translator.