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FIFA Confederations Cup: Russia get off to winning start, beat New Zealand

19 June 2017

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.

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.

"We've worked hard and I believe now we're well-prepared for the opening game", Zenit midfielder Igor Smolnikov told Russian TV.

Smolov was named Budweiser Man of the Match, while New Zealand now have two unwanted Tournament of Champions records to their name, having gone 513 minutes without scoring in the competition and ten matches without winning.

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However, one veteran team is drawing special attention - Mexico is playing against Portugal on Sunday's much-anticipated game. Forward Nani scored but a review by video assistants showed a Portugal player was offside in the build up to the goal.

Portugal is not anxious about Cristiano Ronaldo being distracted at the Confederations Cup by talk of his possible departure from Real Madrid.

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Russian Federation made sure of victory in the second half, with Fyodor Smolov's third goal in four internationals ensuring president Vladimir Putin, who called for improved performances in the event, was applauding happily in the stands. "It allowed us to play", Cherchesov said.

Portugal face Mexico at the Kazan Arena while Cameroon and Chile will meet at the Otkritie Arena in Moscow. "We could have been more aggressive".

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The Portuguese football federation released a statement, signed by coach Fernando Santos, Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest of the players, saying that "in this sad hour we send our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and loved ones of the victims of the fires".

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.

New Zealand is now without a win in four trips to the Confederations Cup, and next plays Mexico on Wednesday in Sochi. Dmitri Poloz set up the chance with a through ball to Denis Glushakov, who tried to chip All Whites goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic.

Playing in the tournament for the first time, Russian Federation were on the front foot and had two early chances cleared off the line in the opening 10 minutes.

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"The Confederations Cup is the main operational milestone on the way to the next year's World Cup".

FIFA Confederations Cup: Russia get off to winning start, beat New Zealand