FC Internazionale Milano and Werder Bremen shared the spoils in an eventful Group B draw as Claudio Pizarro returned to haunt the Nerazzurri with another goal.
Pizarro had scored against Internazionale for FC Bayern München at the same stage of the 2006/07 UEFA Champions League and, after a glaring first-half miss, made amends two minutes past the hour with another crucial strike. That cancelled out Maicon's opening goal, negated Inter's dominance and kept alive the European hopes of Thomas Schaaf's men, who have two points from as many games ahead of back-to-back matches against Panathinaikos FC. Inter, on four points, are dead level at the top with their next opponents, Anorthosis Famagusta FC.
If Inter were on the back foot for long spells of their defeat in Sunday’s Milan derby, the opposite was true tonight. José Mourinho made five changes and his charges took to their task with relish, attacking from the outset and threatening to take the lead inside a minute as Zlatan Ibrahimović picked out Adriano's run into the penalty area for a spectacular bicycle kick that flew narrowly over. Adriano and Ibrahimović were at the centre of much of Inter's excellent play, the former delivering a crossfield pass which his strike partner fired wide via Naldo's deflection. Ibrahimović soon returned the favour, dispossessing Petri Pasanen before teeing up a run and shot from the effervescent Adriano.
Bremen were creaking at the back under the relentless pressure and on 13 minutes their rearguard was breached, albeit in slightly unfortunate fashion. Adriano was again involved, although his attempt to play in his compatriot required several deflections to spring the defence. Having been put clear, though, Maicon made no mistake, lifting the ball deftly over the advancing Tim Wiese. The hosts might have doubled their advantage following a sweeping move which began with a crunching Sulley Muntari tackle and ended with Wiese saving at the feet of Dejan Stanković after a measured Mario Balotelli pass. That could have been costly within three minutes as Sebastian Prödl's right-wing centre found Pizarro two metres out, yet the Peruvian's miscued effort came back off the upright.
There was still time before the interval for Inter to carve out another glorious opportunity as Adriano's cross was met by Balotelli at close range. Somehow, though, Wiese denied the 18-year-old a UEFA Champions League debut goal. After the break Inter continued to look comfortable but so long as their lead was slender Bremen were still in with a chance – and on 62 minutes Pizarro took it, appearing unmarked to turn in Mesut Özil's low delivery from the right.
Mourinho sent on Ricardo Quaresma and Julio Cruz as the Italian champions attempted to regain their advantage. Cruz almost obliged, narrowly failing to connect with Quaresma's 'trivela' cross while three minutes from time Maicon was unlucky to see his swerving 30-metre strike hit the base of the post. It was a frustrating night for Inter, though it might have been worse as Pizarro missed again in the final seconds as he followed up Naldo's parried free-kick for the Bundesliga side.