A last-minute Lionel Messi goal denied Werder Bremen a much-needed victory in UEFA Champions League Group A as holders FC Barcelona left it late to rescue a point in Germany.
An own goal from Barça captain Carles Puyol eleven minutes into the second period seemed to have rewarded the home side for a vibrant display full of attacking intent. However, just as Bremen looked set to join their visitors on three points from two matches, substitute Messi played a clever one-two with Deco before sliding the equaliser beyond Tim Wiese with a minute of normal time remaining.
After losing 2-0 at Chelsea FC on Matchday 1, Bremen knew the onus was on them to take something from the game to boost their chances of progress. They started accordingly, attempting to put the Spanish champions under early pressure. Aaron Hunt, surprisingly preferred to Ivan Klasnić, had a good opportunity to give the German outfit the lead on two minutes but fired straight at Víctor Valdés and shortly afterwards Torsten Frings's penetrating pass was cut out at the last second with Miroslav Klose lurking.
Bremen on top
Hunt's pace continued to trouble the Barça defence and on ten minutes his deflected cross fell for Frings but the German international directed his effort just wide. Bremen continued to dominate and Klose might have done better after being freed by Diego before Valdés came to the rescue after another good pass from Frings. Barça had created little in the early exchanges but threatened out of nowhere on the quarter-hour and Frings had to recover swiftly to block Ronaldinho's shot after the Brazilian had burst through the home rearguard.
Frings almost turned villain when his pass was intercepted by Ronaldinho who immediately supplied Samuel Eto'o but the striker was denied by Wiese. After such a frenetic start it was perhaps inevitable that the pace would drop, and neither side was able to threaten again before the interval. Barcelona got off to the better opening to the second half with Puyol threatening from a Ronaldinho corner but Bremen replied with a set-piece of their own when Diego's corner was nodded wide by Klose at the far post.
Bremen continued to attack and got the breakthrough they wanted in the 56th minute as the lively Hunt broke down the left once again and his centre was touched past Valdés by the luckless Puyol. Despite going ahead, Bremen maintained their attacking approach and could have doubled their advantage nine minutes later when Tim Borowski flashed a shot just past the upright.
Frank Rijkaard sent on two fresh forwards in Messi and Eidur Gudjohnsen midway through the half - the latter replacing Eto'o, who departed on a stretcher - and the Argentinian international quickly showed his menace, dancing through the home defence only to be denied by Wiese. Bremen failed to heed the warning, however, and were made to pay with time running out as Messi slid the ball in to finally silence the lively home crowd.