FC Schalke 04 face a tough task in their UEFA Cup semi-final after being held to a 0-0 home draw in the first leg against Sevilla FC.
The German side passed up several goalscoring opportunities, especially in the second half, but their chances of earning a place in next month's Eindhoven final took a significant blow when defender Mladen Krstajić was dismissed for elbowing an opponent ten minutes from time.
With two key players - striker Kevin Kuranyi and midfielder Lincoln - starting on the substitutes' bench, Schalke struggled to make headway in the opening period. Sevilla goalkeeper Andrés Palop fumbled a Gustavo Varela shot on seven minutes but Mirko Slomka's men claimed no advantage.
Sevilla got their first sight of goal midway through the half as Jesús Navas flashed an effort wide from 18 metres, and the striker showed why he has become such an important player for the Andalusian team when he forced a save from Schalke keeper Frank Rost minutes later. Navas then turned provider, swinging in a corner for Enzo Maresca which Schalke defender Marcelo Bordon did well to charge down.
Schalke picked up the pace after the break, and Varela had another sight of goal, drilling an attempt narrowly off target. Fresh from the bench, Lincoln then drew a save from Palop with a free-kick, but Navas remained a threat at the other end, lifting a shot over Rost's crossbar from ten metres.
Lincoln had another strike saved by Palop before Krstajić was sent off for a challenge on Navas, but the Gelsenkirchen side continued to look the more likely victors. However, Palop continued to frustrate them, producing a stunning stop to deny Bordon from Lincoln's 83rd-minute corner.
There was one more opportunity for Slomka's team to take the spoils with Lincoln firing in another corner that set up Søren Larsen. The Dane let fly with his right foot from ten metres but Palop came to the rescue of the Spaniards once more.
©UEFA.com 1998-2011. All rights reserved.