Stuttgart had been the only unbeaten team in Germany but lost their grip on top spot after a 2-0 reverse at lowly SC Freiburg. To make matters worse for Matthias Sammer's men, defender Martin Stranzl was sent off in the second half. Stuttgart also have plenty of injury worries before the visit of Benfica, with Silvio Meissner's thigh problem causing particular concern although he should be fit. However, Marco Streller, Fernando Meira, Boris Živkovic and Hakan Yakin are all still some way off from a return, having missed the 5-1 victory at Beveren on Matchday 1.
Azar Karadas staked his claim for a place in the Benfica starting lineup with a goal in the 2-0 home victory against CD Nacional. The Norway striker, who scored as a substitute in the 4-2 win at home to Heerenveen on Matchday 1, got a chance three days later because of Nuno Gomes's one-match domestic ban. Another absentee was Petit, who sustained a muscle injury in his left leg against Heerenveen and was rested by Giovanni Trapattoni. Croatian forward Tomislav Šokota was also on target for the Portuguese leaders against Nacional.
Belgian side Beveren bounced back from their defeat by Stuttgart with a 5-1 home success against Cercle Brugge KSV. Romaric N'Dri, who scored the consolation goal against the German outfit, struck twice while Moussa Sanogo, Alain Koudou and Marco Né also registered. However, defender Mondakan Mahan was suspended for the game, as he was against Stuttgart, while Anouar Bou-Sfia and Constant Kipre remain on the injured list, with the latter unlikely to return before the new year. Beveren will want to have their strongest possible team for their next European date, as they travel to Dinamo.
Goalkeeper Brian Vanderbussche got another 90 minutes under his belt for Dutch club Heerenveen in the 2-1 Eredivisie victory at home to fellow UEFA Cup contenders FC Utrecht. The 23-year-old Belgian is deputising for the injured Boy Waterman. Heerenveen were also again without defender Said Bakkati. Klaas Jan Huntelaar, who scored in the 4-2 defeat at Benfica, notched both Heerenveen goals to take the team up to fourth in the table.
Dinamo, who begin their group stage campaign on Matchday 2, had to work hard for their 2-1 home triumph against NK Zadar, although a second-half sending-off for the visitors had a major impact. Eduardo Da Silva was the Dinamo match-winner, scoring for the Croatian side in the 59th and 68th minutes. Dinamo were relieved to see captain Niko Kranjcar play the whole match after he failed to finish their previous domestic fixture. The result left Dinamo in sixth place, with 17 points after 12 games.
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