Werder Bremen went a long way to securing a spot in the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup with a 3-1 victory over Udinese tonight. Two brilliant goals by Diego and a third by Pizarro were enough to see off the Italian side and give the Green-Whites a hearty lead heading to Udine next week.
There would be a bevy of players to choose as MOM. Diego’s two beautiful strikes would be a starting point and there was also Per Mertesacker’s brilliance in the air shutting down Udinese’s main option in Quagliarella. Goalkeeper Tim Weisse saved two strikes from Quagliarella early in the second half, which could have changed the tie, as well as a late freekick by D’Agostino. Frings was solid in front of the back four, shutting down the middle of the pitch for the home side and Ozil delivered the final pass on both of Diego’s goals. Leftback Sebastian Boenisch did a great job of shutting down the left and provided the assist on the third goal. In fact the late score by Udinese was brought on by replacing Boenisch with Pasanen who was beaten to allow the ball into a dangerous area late.
However the person that had the most impact on this game wasn’t a player, it was Udinese manager Pasquale Marino, who set out to get a draw. The first half was a cynical approach by the Italian side as they put everyone behind the ball and lofted long balls to Quagliarella. It was the most English game I’ve seen a side play since the 1980’s, and it was intended to keep the score low and nick an away goal. It failed because of his second big error, which was to not man-mark either Diego or Ozil, leaving them acres of freedom. Diego must be drooling about his prospective move to Series A next year, if this is the type of marking he can expect. Ozil and Diego were both two meters free on the first goal. Their link led to an expertly taken goal from the edge of the box by the Brazilian playmaker. Udinese were then forced to chase the game and Werder were able to exploit on the counter.
Werder go to Udinese next week with a sizable lead and the knowledge that Ozil and Diego should be able to create plenty of chances to negate the late goal.
Meanwhile, Martin Jol take the same lead to Manchester next week. After conceding an early goal to City, the Dinosaurs scored through Mathijsen, Trochowski and Guerrero to make the possibility of an all German semifinal a real possibility.