Russia 2 - 0 New Zealand, Confederations Cup: As it happened, goals, match report
Goals from Boxall (OG) and Smolov got hosts Russia off to a comfortable winning start in Saint Petersburg, against lowly New Zealand.
A Fedor Smolov tap-in and an own goal from Michael Boxall secured a win for Russia in the opening match of the 2017 Confederations Cup. Stanislav Cherchesov’s team were comfortable against a New Zealand side that had little guile to supplement their physicality.
After a colourful opening ceremony in Saint Petersburg and speeches from Vladimir Putin and Gianni Infantino, the World Cup warm-up got underway.
Russia quickly stamped their authority, and superiority, on the match. With seven minutes gone, a flying header from Vasin spun off the inside of the post and across the goal line. McGlinchey was well place to clear New Zealand’s lines with a desperate hoof. Two minutes later, the All Whites, ranked 95th in the world, were back against the ropes. Poloz took the ball down at the far post, and poked it beyond the onrushing ‘keeper. Boxall’s intelligent positioning saved New Zealand, with another goal-line clearance.
Yet New Zealand could not stem the constant waves of Russian attack. After half an hour, Poloz freed Glushakov with a superb, caressed pass. Russia’s number 8 dinked the ball over Marinovic, and it bobbled agonisingly towards the line. Boxall slid in towards his own goal, and as the ball bounced off the post, he carried it in to the net. It was a curious goal; from the sublime to the scrappy in an instant.
Russia swaggered in to the second half. Minutes after the restart, Marinovic made a superb double save to deny Smolov, and then Erokhin. Five minutes later, Marinovic was called back in to action to deny Poloz, who was a constant threat; a buzzing accomplice to his striker partner.
Golovin and Smolov became increasingly influential as the half wore on. New Zealand were chasing shadows, and no more so than when Smolov doubled Russia’s lead on 69 minutes. The Krasnodar striker rolled the ball out to Samedov on the right, and ghosted to the back post to tap in his team-mate’s low cross. The Confederations Cup is a shop window for Smolov, as he seeks to move to the big leagues of Western Europe. His performance in Saint Petersburg will have attracted the attention of passers by.
Anthony Hudson’s New Zealand prodded at the steadfast Russian defence. Tommy Smith’s bullet header was cleared off the line by Yuri Zhirkov. But the hosts were never truly troubled. It was a confident start from Russia, but sterner tests will come.