MOSCOW, June 21. /TASS, Yevgeny Ionov/. Reigning European Champions Portugal overcame Russia 1-0 in the second group stage match of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup playing at Spartak Stadium in the Russian capital of Moscow on Wednesday night.
The match between hosts Russia and the 2016 UEFA Euro Cup Champions, Portugal, at the over 42,700-seat capacity Spartak Stadium, which is a newly-built facility in the Russian capital, kicked off shortly after a strong rain, which showered over the stadium for several minutes.
Spectator stands of the stadium were mostly packed with Russian football fans, who loudly cheered and waved banners along with national flags in support of their home football squad, but there were fans as well from Portugal, Mexico and other countries as well.
Written across the banners were the names of Russian cities of Bryansk, Krasnodar, Tomsk, Vladivostok and many others, meaning that people came all over Russia to see their team playing against famous team from Portugal.
Captain of the Portuguese side Cristiano Ronaldo walked out on the pitch of Spartak Stadium with a 10-year-old wheelchair user, Polina Haeredinova, before the match. It was a touching moment to remind that the world should not forget about people with limited abilities.
The first goal in the match was scored on 8th minute into the Russian net by Christiano Ronaldo, who is the captain of the Portuguese side and is currently considered the world’s top footballer.
Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev had no chances, when assisted from the left side by Rafael Guerreiro in front of the Russian goal Ronaldo shot a straightforward header from the right wing into the hosts’ net.
However, Akinfeev was there to save the ball as Ronaldo shot a free kick after being knocked down by Fedor Kudriashov on 24th minute.
The Lusitanians obviously dominated the first half of the game and statistics showed that the Portuguese side packed 62% of ball possession time in the opening 45 minutes of the game.
The Russians seemed to recover after the break as deep into the second half they began coining up dangerous attacks on the Portuguese goal one after another.
However, the hosts did not score, but earned two yellow cards in addition to the one from the first half, and 0-1 remained flashing on the scoreboard in favor of Portugal as the final whistle signaled the end of the game.
"It is obvious that they are a high-class team with a lot of high-class players," Russian midfielder Alexander Samedov said after the match.
Commenting on the match results, Akinfeev said "unfortunately we lost, but there were no apathetic players on the field."
"It was a good game in my opinion," he said. "We have a new team and it is in the process of development. We need to be gaining more confidence in order to look properly and integral playing against such teams as Portugal."
After the game, Portugal’s 32-year-old captain Ronaldo was awarded the trophy of the match’s best player.
After playing two group stage matches each, Portugal currently tops Group A with four points, while Russia is in the second place with three points. However, the final disposition in the group will be settled after tonight’s match between New Zealand and Mexico, who are meeting at Fisht Stadium in the southern resort city of Sochi.
The Russian national squad will be playing its next and final group stage match against Mexico on Saturday, June 24, in Kazan, while its tonight’s opponent Portugal would clash later that day with New Zealand in Russia’s second-largest city of Saint Petersburg.
This year’s tournament is held between June 17 and July 2 at four stadiums in Russia and they are Spartak Stadium in Moscow, St. Petersburg Stadium, Fisht Stadium in Sochi and the Kazan Arena in Kazan.
Participants in the 2017 Confederations Cup are hosts Russia, 2014 FIFA World Cup Champions Germany, 2015 Copa America Champions Chile, 2015 AFC Asian Cup Champion Australia, 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup winners Mexico, 2016 UEFA Euro Cup champs Portugal, OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) Nations Cup victors New Zealand and 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations Champion Cameroon.