Russia obey Putin's orders with opening-day win

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Russian Federation kicked off the Confederations Cup by beating New Zealand in a game over-shadowed by referee Wilmar Roldan failing to make use of the video review system.

But weak defending enabled Russia's Fedor Smolov to slip past the New Zealand support and also faucet in a low cross by group friend Alexander Samedov in the 69th minute.

Portugal face Mexico at the Kazan Arena while Cameroon and Chile will meet at the Otkritie Arena in Moscow.

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Scoring chances came early for Russian Federation, playing with confidence and unexpected flair, a powerful header by defender Viktor Vasin bouncing off the inside of the post before being cleared by New Zealand's Michael McGlinchey off the line. But we're a great side too, and I'm sure we can stop him.

Arriving by helicopter close to $750 million new stadium in his native St. Petersburg barely 20 minutes before kickoff, Putin was soon installed in the main grandstand and made a speech to launch the tournament.

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"The game didn't go how we wanted", he said afterwards.

New Zealand had their first major chance in the 78th minute.

It helped the Russian team to seize the lead after twice having shots stopped on the line.

New Zealand lost possession 30 yards out, Aleksandr Erokhin and Dmitry Poloz quickly combined passes before putting through Denis Glushakov.

Russian president Vladimir Putin officially got the tournament underway by addressing the crowd at the Krestovsky stadium, but it was far from a full house with a spattering of blue seats visible which will continue to raise questions about whether Russia is a suitable host for the tournament, and indeed the World Cup in a year's time.

Russian Federation coach Stanislav Cherchesov started with an attacking-style line-up and the decision paid off as Russian Federation started the brighter of the two teams and put New Zealand under near-constant pressure in the opening exchanges. The president prefers ice hockey and saw a team that carried fervent hopes of an Olympic title lose on home ice in the quarterfinals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

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