Subdued Start to Zenit Title Defense

ReutersSpartak's Roman Pavluchenko, top, and Zenit's Alexander Anyukov contesting possession during Sunday's game.
Zenit St. Petersburg began the defense of its Russian title with a dour 0-0 draw against last year's runner-up Spartak Moscow on Sunday.

Chances were few at St. Petersburg's Petrovsky Stadium, with both sides looking sluggish and short of ideas.

Russia striker Pavel Pogrebnyak, who scored both Zenit goals in its 2-0 UEFA Cup win over Marseille four days earlier, had the best chance midway through the second half but missed with his close-range header.

In the Siberian city of Tomsk, local side Tom and Dynamo Moscow braved frigid temperatures that dipped below minus 15 degrees Celsius at kickoff. The scrappy match also ended 0-0.

On Saturday, 2005 and 2006 champion CSKA Moscow, which finished third last year, was held 1-1 at home by newly promoted Shinnik Yaroslavl.

CSKA's Brazilian striker Jo opened the scoring in the 63rd minute but Latvian midfielder Juris Laizans equalized three minutes later.

Two unfancied sides, Krylya Sovietov Samara and Amkar Perm, surprisingly lead the standings after convincingly winning their opening games.

Krylya swept aside promoted Terek Grozny 3-0 in Friday's season opener in the Chechen capital Grozny, and traveling Amkar Perm downed FK Khimki by the same score on Saturday.

Also Saturday, Spartak Nalchik beat visiting FK Saturn, while on Sunday, Rubin Kazan beat visiting Lokomotiv Moscow 1-0 and Luch-Energiya and FK Moscow drew 1-1 in Vladivostok.