Werder Bremen beats ten man Sampdoria

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BREMEN, Germany : Werder Bremen proved there is life after Mesut Ozil with a convincing 3-1 win over Sampdoria at home in the first leg of the Champions League qualification match here on Wednesday.

Bremen have never lost to an Italian side at home and Thomas Schaaf’s men maintain their proud record which puts them in pole-position for next Tuesday’s second-leg in Sampdoria.

The three goals by Clemens Fritz, captain Torsten Frings and Claudio Pizzaro came just 24 hours after Bremen sold Germany’s rising star and playmaker Ozil to Real Madrid.

Bremen’s loss may be Real’s gain, but the north German club took a big step towards a lucrative Champions League place by seeing off the Italians.

Sampdoria gave themselves a late lifeline as striker Giampaolo Pazzini out-leapt Germany centre-back Per Mertesacker to score a valuable away goal ahead of the second leg, but Bremen are favourites to join fellow Bundesliga sides Bayern Munich and Schalke 04 in the draw for the group stages.

Both Bremen and Sampdoria had their chances to score in the first half as Bremen striker Hugo Almeida could only head over the bar after a deflected shot from Pizzaro.

At the other end Pazzini, missed an early chance as Sampdoria made a bright start, but it finished 0-0 at the break.

Germany midfielder Fritz broke the deadlock in the 51st minute when defender Fernando Tissone made a mistake just outside the penalty area.

The 29-year-old unleashed an unstoppable shot which screamed past Italian goalkeeper Gianluca Curci and into the back right-hand corner of the net.

Bremen then made sure they will take the ideal result to Italy next Tuesday when defender Stefano Lucchini hauled down Bremen’s Sebastian Proedl in the penalty area on 66 minutes.

The referee Stephane Lannoy wasted no time showing him a second yellow card and the subsequent red while awarding Werder a penalty.

Former Germany midfielder Torsten Frings slotted home the penalty.

Pizarro made it 3-0 just two minutes later when Almeida back-heeled the ball back into the path of the Peru international and he wasted no time in rifling his shot past Curci on 69 minutes, before Pazzini’s late header.

Sampdoria now have it all to do ahead of Tuesday’s return leg at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.

Fresh from knocking out Scottish giants Celtic, Portuguese side Braga handed Spaniards Sevilla a 1-0 first leg defeat. The Primera Division side must overturn the deficit at home next week after Matheus’ goal separated the sides at the Estadio Municipal de Braga.

Partizan Belgrade and Anderlecht are locked at 2-2 after the first leg in Serbia saw four goals in 13 minutes at the start of the second half. After Cleo’s strike and defender Jan Lecjaks’ own goal, Guillaume Gillet and Roland Juhasz secured the away goals for the Belgians to take home with them.

Hapoel Tel Aviv left Austria with a commendable 3-2 win over SV Salzburg. Goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama gave Hapoel the lead before Nikola Pokrivac levelled for the Austrians.

Ben Sahar and Etay Shechter then scored either side of the break and while Roman Wallner reduced the arrears, Hapoel are in a strong position for next week.

In Switzerland, Valentin Stocker’s 54th-minute strike gave Basle a 1-0 lead over minnows FC Sheriff of Moldova.

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