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FIFA Confederations Cup Opening Ceremony Starts in Russia's St. Petersburg

19 June 2017

Hosts Russia could not have made a better start to the FIFA Confederations Cup, following up a spectacular opening ceremony with a 2-0 defeat of New Zealand in the opening match of the tournament, according to the official website of FIFA.

Russia, playing New Zealand in Group A to kick off the cup, scored in the 31st minute through Denis Glushakov.

This year's tournament, widely seen as a rehearsal before the next year's FIFA World Cup, is held between June 17 and July 2 at four stadiums in Russian Federation and they are Spartak Stadium in Moscow, St. Petersburg Stadium, Fisht Stadium in Sochi and the Kazan Arena in Kazan.

Russia's win eases the pressure on its second game, against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in Moscow on Wednesday.

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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.

Having played his last test match on June 9 against the Chilean team, the Russian team as a whole looked good.

In the 69th minute, Russian Federation scored again when Smolov started a move on the halfway line, passed the ball wide to the right to Alexander Samedov and Smolov sprinted in to the penalty area to score from five yards.

Russian Federation started the second half on the front foot and Kiwi keeper Marinovic made a stunning double save to keep out a Polz header and Erokhin's follow up.

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Aleksandr Samedov's corner found Viktor Vasin who saw his header hacked clear by Michael McGlinchey. Tommy Smith then tidied up when Poloz poked a close-range shot slowly past Marinovic.

Shprygin, who was twice deported from France previous year during Euro 2016, said he had been notified by organisers that his fan-ID, needed to attend matches, had been cancelled.

"When the president of your country comes out to make a speech this mobilizes us", said coach Stanislav Cherchesov, a former goalkeeper who played for the national team before and after the fall of communism.

A Confederations Cup trophy, never mind a World Cup title, might be too much to ask even for Putin, But Saturday was a start.

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