UEFA Champions League: Zenit St Petersburg 0 Austria Vienna 0
By Football News
Axel Witsel was shown a contentious red card as Zenit St Petersburg were held 0-0 against Austria Vienna in the UEFA Champions League.
In a game of few clear-cut chances, the Belgian was shown his marching orders in the 44th minute at the Stadion Petrovskij after Zenit had dominated the first half.
Hulk came closest to breaking the deadlock in the Group G encounter after seeing his low drive cannon off the post.
The talking point then came just before half-time when Witsel was harshly sent off for dangerous play in a sliding tackle on Florian Mader.
Witsel's dismissal allowed Vienna to have more of the ball in the second half and Marin Leovac had a goal ruled out as the goalkeeper had been fouled in the build-up.
Luciano Spalletti named Andrey Arshavin among the Zenit substitutes after the former Arsenal forward featured in Saturday's 4-2 triumph over Spartak Moscow.
Vienna welcomed back midfielder Daniel Royer, who did not feature in the 1-0 reverse to Admira on Saturday.
Zenit dominated the opening exchanges with Hulk particularly threatening.
The Brazil international controlled a throw-in in the 12th minute before turning sharply and flashing a first-time effort against the post.
And he continued to give the away side problems when he cut in from the left-hand side of the box and fired across goal to force Heinz Lindner into a smart save.
Vienna responded by nearly sneaking ahead on the 30-minute mark. Tomas Simkovic floated a corner to the back post and James Holland put a free header wide.
Aleksandr Kerzhakov then missed a golden opportunity for Zenit. In a two-on-two situation, Hulk drove at the defence and slipped a throughball to the Russia international who sliced his left-foot effort wide.
The Zenit defence then retreated, allowing Philipp Hosiner to drag a 20-yard effort narrowly wide.
The flash point of the half came on the stroke of half-time when Witsel was shown a controversial red card when his sliding tackle caught the ankle of Mader.
Vienna looked to make the most of the extra man advantage after the break as Leovac had a goal ruled out in the 52nd minute as Royer had clattered into goalkeeper Yuri Lodigin.
Nenad Bjelica's side continued to press and substitute Thomas Murg should have done better on the hour mark when he blazed over from the edge of the box.
With 20 minutes remaining, Hulk once more came close for Zenit, but his powerful left-foot free-kick went narrowly wide of the target.
Vienna nearly claimed a dramatic win late on when Hosiner headed Simkovic's cross wide, but the result leaves both sides searching for their first win in this season's competition.