Werder Bremen needed two second-half goals to defeat NK Dinamo Zagreb after Boško Balaban scored what could be a precious away goal in this UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie.
Balaban was passed fit to play having been doubtful because of an injury to his left ankle, but he showed no ill-effects as he darted into the box to turn in Marijo Mandžukić's centre on the stroke of half-time. Bremen, missing six regulars, showed great resolve to level through Hugo Almeida a minute after the restart before fellow substitute Daniel Jensen (85) completed the victory in front of 23,000 fans at the Weserstadion.
Dinamo had negotiated two rounds to reach this stage and their match fitness was evident from the kick-off as a weakened Bremen team struggled with the visitors' slick passing game. Apart from a routine stop from a Boubacar Sanogo header, Dinamo's German goalkeeper Georg Koch had little to do in a first half in which Luka Modrić, on 34 minutes, and Balaban, ten minutes later, passed up presentable opportunities before the latter capitalised on Mandžukić's fine approach play to make it 1-0.
Home coach Thomas Schaaf had little choice but to change things, and change they did as Almeida and Jensen – on for the disappointing Leon Andreasen and Kevin Schindler – each scored to complete a stirring comeback. The Portuguese struck first with a fine individual goal which reinvigorated the Bundesliga giants and forced the Croatian side on to the back foot. Jensen's goal was also a cracker, the Dane arrowing in a shot from 20 metres with five minutes to go, yet the tie remains open ahead of the return in two weeks' time.