Confederations Cup Opener: Michael Boxall scored an own goal as Russia defeat New Zealand
Hosts Russia got off to a winning start at the Confederations Cup on Saturday, Fedor Smolov’s second-half goal sealing a 2-0 win over New Zealand in Saint Petersburg in the tournament opener.
Russia went ahead in the first half of the Group A encounter through what was credited as an own goal from New Zealand defender Michael Boxall, and Smolov – top scorer in the Russian league last season – wrapped up the points in the 69th minute.
It was the ideal start for the Russians in a game played at the new Krestovsky Stadium, where President Vladimir Putin and Fifa chief Gianni Infantino both gave speeches before kick-off.
Group A rivals Portugal, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, and Mexico meet in Kazan on Sunday, with Russia’s next game against the Portuguese in Moscow on Wednesday.
This competition offers Russia a chance to showcase its readiness to host the 2018 World Cup amidst off-field concerns surrounding hooliganism and security.