Scoring chances came early for Russian Federation, playing with confidence and unexpected flair, a powerful header by defender Viktor Vasin bouncing off the inside of the post before being cleared by New Zealand's Michael McGlinchey.
ST PETERSBURG, Russia Hosts Russia eased to a 2-0 win over New Zealand on Saturday in the opening match of the Confederations Cup, a tournament seen as a test for the country before it stages next year's World Cup.
(AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky). Russia's Denis Glushakov, center, scores the opening goal during the Confederations, Cup Group A soccer match between Russia and New Zealand, at the St.Petersburg stadium in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, June 17, 2017.
Russian authorities insist that the Confederations Cup's ticketing system, which requires ticket holders to apply for a personalised fan-ID, ensures that all fans are screened and troublemakers are kept away.
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.
"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.
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Comey " leaking his own memos to manipulate the system is exactly why people dislike the swamp ", said Trump ally Newt Gingrich. Comey has said Sessions did not respond when he complained he didn't "want to get time alone with the president again".
FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said Russia's readiness had "surpassed expectations".
But empty seats remain a concern, with Russia's Sport Express reporting that some tickets were being handed out to state workers for free in a bid to fill the stands at an upcoming Confederations Cup match in Kazan.
The other two Group A teams include European champions Portugal spearheaded by the global superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and the most decorated CONCACAF team Mexico.
Next year's World Cup hosts were dominant against a relatively inexperienced New Zealand side, but missed chances may be less forgiving when Russian Federation come up against Portugal and Mexico in the coming days.
Russian Federation came into the tournament off the back of some strong performances, drawing with Belgium and Group B's Chile as well as downing Hungary 3-0.
Sitting in first in Group A of the Oceania region, New Zealand's hopes of World Cup qualification look likely as the play-offs draw near in November this year.
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