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ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) - Host nation Russia beat a poor New Zealand team 2-0 on Saturday to open the Confederations Cup with a win that was all but demanded by Vladimir Putin.

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.

Group A rivals Portugal and Mexico meet in Kazan on Sunday.

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Russian Federation faces a stress test of its readiness to host the 2018 World Cup as the Confederations Cup kicks off Saturday (Sunday in Manila) amid concerns over hooliganism and security. They've long had mediocre results at major global tournaments, though, failing to qualify for three of the last six World Cups and not getting out of the group stage in the three they did reach.

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. Several defenders rushed back to attempt to clear the ball, but after coming off the post it was bundled over the line by defender Michael Boxall. "It allowed us to play", Cherchesov said.

After a 21st minute free kick taken by Cristiano Ronaldo struck the wall, the ball was sent back into the area where four Portugal players were in offside positions and one of them challenged for the ball, meaning he was offside.

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The new football arena in St. Petersburg is hosting the opening and final matches of the Confederations Cup, also dubbed as the Tournament of Champions. They also out-shot New Zealand 16-6 (7-1 in shots on target).

The Russian national team and the New Zealand team have never played against each other for the whole history of their existence.

The Portuguese sports daily A Bola published a front-page story Friday saying that Ronaldo was upset with the accusations made against him and that his decision to leave Madrid was "irreversible". "But we're a great side too, and I'm sure we can stop him", striker Raul Jimenez, a Portuguese league and cup double victor with Benfica said.

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A Confederations Cup trophy, never mind a World Cup title, might be too much to ask even for Putin, But Saturday was a start.

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