By Mark Bennett at Weserstadion
Ivan Klasnic proved to be RSC Anderlecht's undoing again, the Croatian forward scoring three times to help Werder Bremen to a comfortable UEFA Champions League win.
Bremen went into the match looking to tighten their grip on second place in Group G and two early goals from in-form Klasnic - who also scored twice in Belgium a fortnight ago - gave the German champions the perfect start. Anderlecht's hopes were temporarily raised by Oleg Iachtchouk's strike, but Miroslav Klose restored Bremen's two-goal lead almost immedately. Klasnic was not yet finished with Anderlecht, however, scoring his third and Bremen's fourth eleven minutes from time, with Daniel Jensen completing the rout in the final minute and confirming the visitors' elimination.
Bremen defender Frank Fahrenhorst was sidelined with an injured ankle, although Angelos Charisteas had recovered sufficiently from a back problem to take his place among the substitutes. Meanwhile, Belgian forward Mbo Mpenza and highly rated defender Vincent Kompany both failed late fitness tests.
Bremen started brightly and immediately had the visitors on the back foot. Johan Micoud's cross from the left was only partially cleared, enabling Jensen to head back to Klasnic. The Croatian international's powerfully struck half-volley from the edge of the area gave Tristan Peersman no chance.
The home side continued to dictate the early pace by closing their opponents down early and pushing the visitors back, and duly doubled their lead on 16 minutes when Klasnic struck again, rising above the defence to meet Micoud's corner with a perfect header.
The visitors needed a long time to settle and had their first real chance of the game when Walter Baseggio's shot from the edge of the area was deflected just wide. Seconds later Iachtchouk could have pulled a goal back, but headed over.
However, on 30 minutes the Ukrainian striker timed his run to perfection as he rose to meet a cross from the right. This time around his flicked header was accurate and good enough to beat Andreas Reinke in Bremen's goal to halve the German champions' lead.
Bremen, however, hit back immediately, restoring their two-goal cushion within three minutes. Micoud made another good run down the left wing before picking out Klose in front of goal and, although Peersman got a foot to the German international's shot, he could not keep it out.
Bremen kept the pressure on and could have inflicted further damage four minutes into the second half. Ludovic Magnin shook off a challenge on the left wing only to see his dangerous cross stabbed centimetres wide of his own goal by Anderlecht captain Glen De Boeck. De Boeck made another vital clearance ten minutes later, arriving just in time to cut out Klasnic's cross with Klose lurking.
Despite an excellent work-rate and some quick passing Bremen failed to carve out any further chances in the following passage of play. Nonetheless the home side never lost their grip on the game, forcing Anderlecht to defend for the early part of the second half.
With 20 minutes remaining Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf brought on Nelson Valdez for Klose. Once again, however, it was Klasnic who was Bremen's biggest threat, the striker completing his hat-trick from Micoud's square pass in the 79th minute. Jensen rounded off the win in the final minute, beating Peersman with a cool finish to complete Bremen's night, and they are one victory from progress - while Anderlecht must now hope to salvage a UEFA Cup campaign.
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