ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Ten-man Zenit St. Petersburg held Austria Vienna to a 0-0 draw in Group G of the Champions League on Tuesday.
Zenit was in control of the game in the first half, but failed to score before referee Deniz Aytekin showed a red card to Axel Witsel for a foul on Florian Mader in the 44th minute. The home side started well and enjoyed most of the early possession, its first chance coming in the 12th minute when Brazil striker Hulk fired in a shot that beat goalkeeper Heinz Linder but struck the right post.
The visitors replied two minutes later when Daniel Royter tested Yuri Lodygin from just outside the box. Hulk led a quick counter attack in the 33rd and put Alexander Kerzhakov through, but the striker's shot flew just wide of the left post.
Zenit's control of the game slipped in the 41st minute when Viktor Fayzulin's crossfield pass was intercepted by Austria Vienna and Lodygin was forced to block Philipp Hosingers' low shot from 20 meters. A minute later, Tomas Simkovic had another chance for the visitors but fired straight into Lodygin's hands.
Despite being a man down in the second half, Zenit still created several chances after coach Luciano Spalletti sent on Roman Shirokov and Andrei Arshavin. "We played a very good match," Spalletti said. "We dominated before we were one man down. When your opponent plays a closed football it's a very significant loss."
Unhappy with the red card decision, Spalletti added: "Unfortunately, such decisions usually spoil a game. We are now in a difficult situation, but I think it's in our hands to improve it." Both teams have one point in the standings after each lost its opening match.
Porto was playing Atletico Madrid later in the group's other game.