Ballet, pop stars & folk dances as Russian Federation welcomes FIFA Confederations Cup

0:45 | Planet Futbol        Russian officials concerned about racist fans during Confederations Cup

0:45 | Planet Futbol Russian officials concerned about racist fans during Confederations Cup

The Confederations Cup kicked off on Saturday and will last through July 2 in the Russian cities of Kazan, Sochi, St. Petersburg and Moscow.

The opening of the 2017 Confederations Cup is here, with hosts Russian Federation taking on New Zealand in the first match of the tournament.

Although Michael Boxall helped the ball over the line and was credited with an own goal. Their record at the European Championships is little better, failing to get out of the group stage four times in the last five tournaments they've qualified for.

With three points, Russian Federation will next face Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in Moscow on Wednesday.

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It was the ideal start for the Russians in a game played at the new Krestovsky Stadium, where President Vladimir Putin and Federation Internationale de Football Association chief Gianni Infantino both gave speeches before kick-off.

Instead it was their Kiwi opponents who spent the large majority of the 90 minutes under the pump, Russian Federation scoring once in each half and creating numerous other opportunities as the All Whites were forced to continuously scramble in defence and survive on scraps in attack.

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson admitted to being "slightly deflated" after his side were convincingly outplayed in going down 2-0 to host nation Russian Federation in the Confederations Cup opener.

"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.

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"I don't know how it was to play on, but judging by the game it seemed the quality (of the pitch) was rather good. He is focused on what needs to be done here, and without a doubt he will have a great tournament", Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio said Saturday.

The All Whites survived until halftime but the largely one-sided nature of the match continued after the restart and in the 68th-minute a slick build-up resulted in an easy finish for striker Fedor Smolov at the back post when the Kiwi defence was again unable to clear a unsafe ball into the box. They're going to be a team to keep a close eye on in the Confederations Cup, because it looks possible that New Zealand will be in the World Cup next summer, as well. 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.

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

Russian Federation are automatically part of the Confederations Cup as they're hosting the tournament, as well as the 2018 World Cup.

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