By Mark Bennett at Weserstadion
Werder Bremen missed the chance to seal their place in the first knockout round of the UEFA Champions League after being held by FC Internazionale Milano.
Bremen looked the brighter side throughout the match and took the lead on 49 minutes when Valérien Ismaël struck from the penalty spot. But Inter - already through from Group G - earned an equaliser six minutes later as substitute Obafemi Martins converted after Dejan Stankovic’s shot deflected back off the bar. The German champions must now avoid defeat at Valencia CF on 7 December after the Spanish side won 2-1 at RSC Anderlecht.
As could be expected Bremen stuck with the 4-3-1-2 lineup that has worked well for them in the Champions League so far; Johan Micoud orchestrating the attacks in midfield with Miroslav Klose and Ivan Klasnic waiting for the Frenchman's promptings up front.
Inter coach Roberto Mancini stuck by his word and looked to Christian Vieri up front with Adriano absent after his red card against Valencia CF. The Italian international was partnered by Julio Cruz.
However, it was the Bremen forward line that got off to the brighter start. Klasnic fired in a cross for Klose from the left wing on three minutes, but the German international steered his volley wide. Bremen continued to control the action, especially in midfield, but Inter were holding firm and restricting the reigning German champions to a few half-chances.
On 18 minutes Klose arrived a split second too late to meet Micoud's cross. And four minutes later the French midfield player aimed another cross at the German international, but this time he could not make full contact and his effort sailed wide.
Bremen's best chances of the first half came around the half-hour mark when Klasnic fired directly at Francesco Toldo after the ball had been cleverly chested down for him by Klose and then as Micoud's free-kick missed the target by a matter of centimetres.
First chance for Inter
Inter's first real chance of the game came one minute from half-time, when the Bremen defence failed to stop Edgar Davids from crossing to Cruz, but he aimed his sliding effort directly at Andreas Reinke.
The second period had only just started when half-time substitute Nelson Valdez's speed led to the first goal. Four minutes after arriving for Klasnic, the Paraguayan striker earned Bremen a valuable corner. Micoud sent the ball into the box where Cruz fouled Magnin, leaving referee Gilles Veissière with no choice but to point to the penalty spot. Ismaël gladly accepted the gift and gave the home side the lead.
Martins arrives in style
Mancini hauled Cruz off soon after the spot-kick and sent on Martins in his place. And the Nigerian striker had only been on the field for three minutes when he levelled the scores. Stankovic's first effort only found the bar, but Martins was quicker than the Bremen defence and tucked the ball away with his first touch of the game.
Bremen continued to look for the winning goal in the later stages of the match and were extremely unlucky when Toldo denied Klose at full stretch 18 minutes from the end. No winner arrived, however, and Bremen are set for a dramatic night in Spain on Matchday 6, while Inter remain one point clear at the summit ahead of the visit of eliminated Anderlecht.