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Werder Bremen clears first hurdle toward Champions League group stage

Werder Bremen have taken a step closer to the Champions League group stage by beating Italian side Sampdoria at home in the final qualifying round.

Bremen players celebrate a goal

Bremen celebrates after scoring the opening goal

In the first match of a two-legged Champions League qualification round, Germany's Werder Bremen beat Italian side Sampdoria 3-1 on Wednesday. The match was Bremen's first after losing star-midfielder Mesut Oezil to Real Madrid in a transfer earlier this week.

All the goals came in the second half, with Bremen's Clemens Fritz drawing first blood in the 51st minute.

Mesut Oezil holds up a Real Madrid jersey

Hours before Bremen's win, Oezil was presented in Madrid

Bremen's next goal came from a penalty by Torsten Frings in the 67th minute after Sampdoria defender Stefano Lucchini was sent off for a second yellow card.

Claudio Pizarro put the game seemingly out of reach two minutes later, and Bremen appeared to be coasting for the remainder of the second half.

But Giampaolo Pazzini put a slight dampener on proceedings in the 90th minute, heading home a cross from substitute Marius Stankevicius.

The last-minute goal gave Sampdoria some hope heading into the second leg next week in Genoa, but the Italians will have their work cut out. In order to advance, Sampdoria must win by at least two goals and hope that Bremen don't score.

Bremen was absent from the Champions League group stage last year after making five consecutive appearances in the years previous. For Sampdoria, advancing from the qualification would be its first trip to the Champions League group stage since reaching the final in the 1991/1992 tournament.

Author: Matt Zuvela
Editor: Rob Turner

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