Russia 2-0 New Zealand

Doug Mendoza
June 18, 2017

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.

Despite the apparent crackdown, some members of hardcore Russian fan groups attended Saturday's Russia-New Zealand game and scuffled among themselves and with stewards.

The hosts won the opening match of Group A at the Krestovsky Stadium in front of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Saint Petersburg.

The 20-minute ceremony involved some 1,500 participants, who displayed various scenes of traditions and culture of four cities in Russian Federation, selected to host the global football tournament this year, reported Tass news agency.

The game was played at the newly-built 57,000-seat capacity St. Petersburg Stadium and tonight's attendance of the match totalled over 50,200.

The Russian president made it a national priority to win hosting rights for the 2018 World Cup in a fierce Federation Internationale de Football Association bidding contest seven years ago.

They are following New Zealand, who are in the tournament as the Oceania champions.

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Russia's victory showed it can win a big game at home, even if Putin is in the arena.

The comments echoed those the of All Whites coach Anthony Hudson, who also praised Russia's "unbelievable" new stadiums in an interview with RT, noting that he hadn't personally encountered "any negativity around the tournament, which is going to be really well-run".

The New Zealand keeper made another great stop from Poloz after a swift Russian Federation counter-attack, while Alexander Samedov curled over from a free-kick as Russian Federation looked to put the result beyond doubt. "We all hope that the guys play with full commitment, like real warriors and athletes, to at least please the fans with their effort to win". "It is clear that when your opponent kicks the ball off the line it is disappointing, but we had a lot of chances and will learn from the experience".

Spurred on by a pre-match pep-talk from president Vladimir Putin, the hosts started strongly, coming close to opening the scoring twice in the space of the first 10 minutes.

The hosts now take on Portugal on Wednesday after Fernando Santos' men have played Mexico in their Group A opener.

A chest-high pass to forward Dmitry Poloz was deftly guided into the path of Denis Glushakov who chipped the ball over onrushing goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic. A three-player race to meet the rebound off a post saw the sliding Boxall's trailing right arm get the final touch in a bundle of bodies.

Other reports by GizPress

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