Russia Roll Past New Zealand in 2-0 2017 Confederations Cup Victory

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistJune 17, 2017

Russia's midfielder Yury Zhirkov (L) fights for theball against New Zealand's defender Kip Colvey vduring the 2017 Confederations Cup group A football match between Russia and New Zealand at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint-Petersburg on June 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT        (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT/AFP/Getty Images)
FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT/Getty Images

Russia defeated New Zealand 2-0 on home soil in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup at the Krestovsky Stadium on Saturday.

Michael Boxall's own goal in the 31st minute broke the deadlock for Russia, and Fedor Smolov confirmed the result with his strike with 21 minutes remaining in St Petersburg.

The Russians were confident on the ball but lacked the firepower to fully put the All Whites to the sword and post a huge score in Group A.

New Zealand struggled in defence, but their opponents failed to be potent in the box. 

Russia's midfielder Denis Glushakov celebrates after scoring the first goal of the match during the 2017 Confederations Cup group A football match between Russia and New Zealand at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint-Petersburg on June 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO /
KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/Getty Images

The hosts made four changes from their pre-tournament 1-1 friendly draw with Chile. Georgi Dzhikiya and Yuri Zhirkov came into a five-man defence with Alexandr Erokhin joining a midfield trio, while Dmitry Poloz started up front alongside Fedor Smolov.

New Zealand lost 1-0 to Belarus in their final match of preparations, and Kosta Barbarouses and Ipswich Town's Tommy Smith replaced Themistoklis Tzimopoulos and Shane Smeltz in the starting lineup.

 

Russia pressurised New Zealand from the earliest moments, forcing the All Whites to drop deep and protect their goal.

Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan officiates the 2017 Confederations Cup group A football match between Russia and New Zealand at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint-Petersburg on June 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV        (Photo credit should read MLAD
MLADEN ANTONOV/Getty Images

Poloz had a shot cleared off the line for the hosts and was then brought down by goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic in a moment of controversy as the referee signalled to play on. Video technology being trialled at the competition proved the incident was a foul, but the official failed to use his video assistant.

Dzhikiya's strike from distance was saved by Marinovic as Russia pushed forward, but New Zealand spurned a rare chance as Chris Wood headed over.

Glushakov broke the deadlock after 31 minutes after the New Zealand defence went to sleep, allowing the hosts to claim a vital lead going into half-time.

Squawka News highlighted the effort:

New Zealand failed to recover in the second half, and they were totally outclassed as Russia chased a potential landslide.

However, Marinovic was in fine fettle and managed to keep his side in the game.

Aleksandr Golovin fired over when he should have doubled the scoreline, and Aleksandr Samedov's effort suffered the same fate.

The second strike finally arrived as Smolov tapped home from close range after starting the move that finished with his goal.

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE 17: Michael McGlinchey of New Zealand and Chris Wood of New Zealand during the Group A - FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 match between Russia and New Zealand at Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 17, 2017 in Saint Petersb
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Russia continued to create, but the hosts couldn't punish their opponents further.

The Russians were certainly satisfied with the result at the end of the match, but New Zealand proved they will struggle in this environment and competition.

A better team would have caused serious damage to the All Whites.

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