Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

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

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

"For us it is very important to make people in the country fall in love with the national team", said Smolov, who scored into an unguarded goal to finish an attack he started with a surging run into the penalty area.

The 68,000-seat St Petersburg stadium will be a flagship venue at the 2018 World Cup and the home of Russian football powerhouse Zenit, but its decade-long construction marred by corruption allegations and delays has so far caused more disappointment than satisfaction.

Russian Federation were under pressure before the match began with the country's President Vladimir Putin in the gallery.

"We've worked hard and I believe now we're well-prepared for the opening game", Zenit midfielder Igor Smolnikov told Russian TV.

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

Smolov was named Budweiser Man of the Match, while New Zealand now have two unwanted Tournament of Champions records to their name, having gone 513 minutes without scoring in the competition and ten matches without winning.

"But we will be able to check whether we've done everything right only once we play in official matches".

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

"I think that my rights have been violated", Shprygin said.

Madrid sports media is awash with headlines suggesting Ronaldo wants out.

Without a win in 10 Confederations Cup matches, New Zealand next play Mexico on Wednesday in Sochi.

Russian Federation deserved its first-half lead after twice having shots stopped on the line in the opening 10 minutes.

Poloz's neat touch set up Denis Glushakov, who dinked his effort over goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic and off the post before Boxall bundled the ball into his own net.

Portugal's William Carvalho, left, and Mexico's Raul Jimenez fight for the ball during the Confederations Cup, Group A soccer match between Portugal and Mexico, at the Kazan Arena, Russia, Sunday, June 18, 2017.

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