Russian Federation defeats New Zealand at 1st Match of FIFA Confederations Cup

Anthony Hudson

It leaves him exposed with a squad shorn of experience and class but if they can get out of a group that also includes Mexico and European champions Portugal it will show progress ahead of the main event next summer when the world's best come to Russian Federation. Russian Federation have the stronger roster and form despite not being able to progress further than the group stage of a major tournament since Euro 2008.

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Taking place a year ahead of the 2018 World Cup, the 2017 Confederations Cup will serve as a dress rehearsal for host national Russian Federation, but also several other sides who could be serious candidates for the coveted trophy next summer.

Nani (C) and Portugal players celebrate after their team's 1-0 win against France in the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France.

Three minutes later New Zealand needed yet another goal-line clearance as Dmitry Poloz chested down a cross and touched it awkwardly past goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic, but Tommy Smith was there to boot away the slow-roller.

A new pitch had to be hastily laid before kick-off after uprooted chunks of grass and bare spots on the field spoiled the first match held at the new venue in April. The win puts them top of Group A, with Mexico and Portugal - the other two teams in the section - due to face off on Sunday.

"Welcome to the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia", Infantino said.

Russian Federation began their Confederations Cup campaign in ideal fashion with a 2-0 win over New Zealand on Saturday night. We're all feeling courageous and will take things on full of optimism.

"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.

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.

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

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