Russia have made a winning start to their first FIFA Confederations Cup campaign, beating New Zealand 2-0 at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in front of a crowd of 50,251.
The tournament hosts were good value for their victory, although their first goal owed a little to good fortune, with the luckless Michael Boxall bundling over the line in his attempts to clear as Denis Glushakov closed in on goal.
But the Russians remained dominant and there was nothing lucky about their second, which saw Fedor Smolov convert coolly with the outside of his foot following some fine build-up play on the right win.
FIFA.com team reporter analysis
“It wasn’t perfect from Russia but Stanislav Cherchesov’s players got the job done. Pundits who predicted that Russia, while favourites, faced a tricky match were proved right.
Though the hosts were dominant, some mistakes in their midfield play could have been punished by the All Whites. Russia was undoubtedly the stronger team though, with Glushakov and Smolov the main heroes.”
Igor Borunov, Russia team reporter
“No Kiwi supporter will be shocked by the result, but they might be surprised at how one-sided the match was. Unable to hold possession in midfield, the New Zealand defence was exposed by the Russians’ superior pace time and again.
Hudson’s starting XI and substitutions were adventurous, but the team’s more skilful players did little besides chase and it was only late in the match that the All Whites succeeded in creating any chances.”
Brendon Hanley, New Zealand team reporter
Budweiser Man of the Match
He had been identified as a likely star for the hosts before the tournament and Fedor Smolov did not disappoint. The Krasnodar star intelligent forward play caused problems for New Zealand’s defence throughout and he capped a fine performance with a classily converted goal.
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