Russia vs New Zealand Highlights
If every host nation could handpick their opponents for the opening game of a major tournament, New Zealand would be close to the top of the list, being the lowest ranked team at this years’ FIFA Confederations’ Cup. And so, Russia did not disappoint and made a limelight of their opening match against the Kiwis, cruising to a 2-0 win in Saint Petersburg.
Playing in the tournament for the first time, Russia were the first one out of the blocks, with Aleksandr Golovin having a drive unconvincingly dealt with by New Zealand goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic. The hosts were then denied by two goal-line clearances. First, Viktor Vasin’s diving header from 12 yards struck the inside the post before being hacked clear off the line by Michael McGlinchey. Minutes later Dmitry Poloz chested down a cross from right and stabbed his effort from six yards past the keeper, only for Tommy Smith to get back on the line to clear. Poloz then had a penalty claim turned down when he rounded Marinovic and went to ground.
Russia dominant from the word go, eventually took the lead in the 31st minute after New Zealand lost possession in their own half. Poloz’s neat touch then set up Denis Glushakov who dinked his effort over goalkeeper and off the post before Boxall bundled the ball into his own net.
New Zealand, who hadn’t had a sniff all night, had a penalty claim for handball turned down early in the second half, before Marinovic kept them in the game with a series of saves from keeping out Poloz’s on more than one occasion.
Russia should have had five six goals, had they taken their chances, always keeping the New Zealand in the game. But, 21 minutes from time Smolov sealed the victory with a simple finish form six yard. New Zealand had their first major chances when Ryan Thomas’ powerful effort forced an impressive save from Igor Akinfeev but Russia were untroubled throughout and now turn their attention to a crucial clash against Portugal on Wednesday.