FIFA Confed Cup: Russia Off To Bright Start
2017 FIFA Confederations Cup host Russia got off to a bright start on Saturday when they beat New Zealand 2-0.
The game played in Saint Petersburg saw Russia go ahead in the first half of the Group A opener 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.
Cherchesov's men were too strong for a limited New Zealand side and were unlucky not to take an early lead, Viktor Vasin heading against the post from an Alexander Samedov corner, with Michael McGlinchey clearing off the line.
Dmitry Poloz then went down under a challenge from New Zealand goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic in the area, but the Colombian referee waved away the penalty appeals and there was no intervention from the video assistant.
Smolov had an effort ruled out for offside before the opening goal arrived just after the half-hour mark.
Alexander Yerokhin sparked the attack with an interception around 30 yards from goal, and his pass was helped on by Poloz into the path of Denis Glushakov.
The Spartak Moscow midfielder lifted the ball over Marinovic and saw his effort hit the post before Boxall, one of two defenders desperately scrambling back to try to clear, helped it over the line.
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.