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All Whites fall short in Confed Cup opener

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5 days ago

Russia have kicked off their Confederations Cup Group A campaign in style as they cruised to a 2-0 victory over New Zealand in St Petersburg.

An own-goal from Michael Boxall and Fedor Smolov's second-half strike sealed all three points for new coach Stanislav Cherchesov's side as the tournament hosts impressed at the Krestovsky Stadium.

Coach Anthony Hudson said the All Whites had targeted a better result, and were "slightly deflated" to come away with a loss.

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

"The first half was quite scrappy - I think certainly the first goal was preventable, we gave the ball away in a really bad area.

"The second goal, I thought we did a lot better winning the ball higher up the pitch but I think we dropped off at the wrong time."

Russia were on the front foot early and had two chances cleared off the line in the opening 10 minutes.

Aleksandr Samedov's corner found Viktor Vasin, who saw his header hacked clear by Michael McGlinchey, then Tommy Smith was on hand to clear Dmitry Poloz's strong effort.

Russia took the lead on 31 minutes after New Zealand lost possession in their own half.

Poloz's neat touch set up Denis Glushakov, who dinked his effort over goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic and off the post before Boxall bundled the ball into his own net.

Russia sealed all three points as Smolov started and finished a swift passing move in the 69th minute to extended their unbeaten streak to four matches under Cherchesov.

The Kiwis had a few chances but rarely caused Russia any problems.

Their best opportunities came later in the match, Ryan Thomas hitting a sweetly struck drive from the edge of the area in the 77th minute but Russian keeper and captain Igor Akinfeev pulled off a superb save to his left.

Just seconds later, Smith headed the resulting corner from McGlinchey towards goal but Russia somehow managed to scramble the ball off the line.

The All Whites now travel to Sochi to face world No.17 Mexico early on Thursday (NZT), and Hudson says they'll be a better team for the hit-out against Russia.

"Overall we showed a lot of spirit, and there's certainly some positives to take into the next game for us.

"We don't get a lot of opportunities to play against top teams, so this has been an unbelievable experience for us, and we're going to learn a lot from this game."

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