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Krasnodar striker Fedor Smolov made it 2-0 in the 69th minute

Hosts Russia kicked off their Confederations Cup campaign with a comfortable Group A victory over New Zealand in St Petersburg.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino opened the tournament with a speech inside the St Petersburg Stadium, with Russian president Vladimir Putin and legendary Brazil footballer Pele in attendance.

Russia took the lead through Michael Boxall’s first-half own goal.

Fedor Smolov scored a second from close range after the break.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino (two from left) and Russia president Vladimir Putin (three from right) in conversation at the opening match of the 2017 Confederations Cup

Also in Russia’s group are Mexico and Portugal, whose squad includes Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

Group B consists of Cameroon, Chile, Australia and world champions Germany.

The tournament, which first took place in 2005, is being held in the country hosting the World Cup next year.

Russia fans’ head barred

Russian fan leader Alexander Shprygin was prevented from attending the opening match, according to Reuters.

Shprygin said he had been notified by Confederations Cup organisers that his fan-ID – required to attend matches – had been cancelled.

“No-one explained the reasons for this,” he told Reuters.

“They gave me a fan-ID and then two hours [before the match] they cancelled it, apparently on purpose so I don’t have the time to complain.”

Shprygin was expelled from France after violence occurred before and during Russia’s Euro 2016 match against England in Marseille.

Read: World Cup hosts come under the spotlight


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