Werder Bremen revived their hopes of reaching the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League as goals in each half from Naldo and Diego earned a vital 2-0 victory against PFC Levski Sofia in Group A.
The home side, who had taken only one point from their first two games, created a string of excellent scoring opportunities but initially struggled to find a way through a determined visiting defence. Once Naldo had finally broken through with a long-range free-kick on the stroke of half-time, however, the German team visibly relaxed and wrapped up the win in the closing stages as Diego calmly slotted in their second goal.
Bremen on top
With neither club victorious in their opening two outings, three points at the Weserstadion were critical and Bremen signalled their intentions early on despite the absence of key midfielders Frank Baumann and Tim Borowski, taking control from the first whistle. In the fourth minute Aaron Hunt's delicate pass to Miroslav Klose was gratefully accepted only for the German international to fire over. Shortly afterwards Diego picked out Jurica Vranješ outside the area but the Croatian's attempt was deflected over, and Klose's touch then let him down as he tried to capitalise on a perceptive through-ball from Vranješ.
With Levski content to wait patiently for their chances on the break, Bremen bossed the midfield and the Bulgarian champions therefore found it hard to trouble their defence. The hosts continued to create promising openings but the outcome remained less satisfactory than the build-up, Hunt arriving a split-second too late to make the most of Clemens Fritz's right-wing cross before Christian Schulz narrowly missed the target from the edge of the box. Just when Levski thought they had done enough to get to the interval with their goal intact, however, a long-range free-kick in added time proved their undoing, Naldo beating Georgi Petkov with an effort from 30 metres that crept into the net off the left-hand post.
Despite that narrow advantage, Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf decided to risk even more after the break, exchanging defender Pierre Wome for a striker in the shape of Ivan Klasnić. Yet the change almost backfired when Valeri Domovchiyski picked up a loose ball in the opening seconds before firing wide to the relief of the Weserstadion supporters. Schaaf's charges swiftly adapted and might have doubled their lead when Klose's pass sliced open the Levski rearguard but Klasnić was denied by the alert Petkov.
Shortly afterwards Hunt also spurned a presentable opportunity, blasting over after a clever header from Vranješ, and Diego was also frustrated by the keeper who palmed his shot to safety after the Brazilian international had shaken off a defender. Bremen finally managed to put the match out of Levski's reach with 17 minutes remaining. Klasnić made his presence felt with a perfect pass for Diego and the No10, who was left with only Petkov to beat, gladly accepted the chance to give Bremen's campaign a welcome boost.