Russia Win Confed Cup Opener

Shprygin said he had been notified by Confederations Cup organisers that his fan-ID - required to attend matches - had been cancelled.

Stanislav Cherchesov's men delivered with an impressive 2-0 win, a match that followed the tournament's opening ceremony which included Russian president Vladimir Putin.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino is also coming to St. Petersburg on Saturday for the opening of the tournament.

When the Russian players - some unknown outside their home country - were given center stage, they forced an own goal from New Zealand defender Michael Boxall in the 31st minute, and forward Fyodor Smolov added a second in the 69th.

The FIFA Confederations Cup is viewed by experts as a rehearsal for the organizers, with only one year to go to the FIFA World Cup. "If we don't pick up three points our chances of getting through versus Portugal might not be that high".

Russia's win certainly eased the pressure on winning its second game, against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in Moscow on Wednesday. They won the title as hosts in 1999 thanks to a thrilling 4-3 win against Brazil in the final, and are the only previous winners of the trophy among the teams at Russian Federation 2017.

And Fedor Smolov sealed victory with 21 minutes remaining, finishing simply from six yards after starting a move that led to the hapless Boxall failing to clear Samedov's threatening right-wing cross.

It was the home team, though, who created nearly all the chances and probably should have been disappointed not to win by more.

The pressure was on and, to the surprise of many, Russian Federation delivered, dominating from the outset.

"It just took us too long to settle into the game and when we did have the opportunity to settle down and connect a few passes we rushed things".

Played out under the warm St Petersburg sun, the afternoon began with a colourful and entertaining opening ceremony featuring a cast of 12 dancers and more than 2,000 artists.

But anything other than a convincing win against the New Zealanders would have caused major worries for Russian Federation, and the team will face a much sterner test when they take on Portugal in Moscow on Wednesday. We're totally focused on the game.

"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.

"Come to Russia! You will feel the best football tournament ever".