Werder Bremen were left to rue a series of missed chances as Anorthosis Famagusta FC made an impressive UEFA Champions League debut by holding their German hosts to a goalless draw in Group B.
Despite creating a string of opportunities throughout the 90 minutes, Bremen were unable to break down their determined Cypriot visitors with Claudio Pizarro, Mesut Özil and Hugo Almeida all failing to convert when well placed. Anorthosis proved well-organised and hard-working, and rightly celebrated an impressive first appearance in the competition proper when the final whistle confirmed their point.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Bremen were on the attack almost immediately and had to wait only five minutes for the first openings. Markus Rosenberg's header from a Daniel Jensen cross was deflected wide and the resulting corner, taken by Diego, brought another opportunity as Naldo headed past the post. Anorthosis were unmoved, however, and carved out their first chance soon after as Vincent Laban found Paulo Costa in space in the penalty area but the midfielder sent his shot over the bar.
Bremen on top
That proved to be a rare Anorthosis attack as Bremen continued to dictate the pace in the Weserstadion, Rosenberg, Claudio Pizarro and Mesut Özil – replacing the injured Frank Baumann in midfield – all coming close inside the first 20 minutes. The best chance fell for Pizarro just past the quarter-hour as the Peruvian international escaped his marker to meet Clemens Fritz's penetrating cross, only to steer his effort wide of the near post.
The home team continued to try hard to break down the visitors' resistance but the competition debutants managed to keep their goal intact in spite of several further first-half scares. Ten minutes before the break a perceptive Torsten Frings pass found Özil in the area, but the shot was blocked and it was from an inadvertent effort that Bremen came closest to breaking through in the opening 45 minutes, Sebastian Boenisch's misdirected left-wing cross bouncing off the crossbar. Pizarro's subsequent inability to reach another Boenisch centre summed up the home side's first-half frustration.
Visiting coach Temuri Ketsbaia decided to make his first change of the evening at the interval, Hawar Taher coming on for Paulo Costa, and the change almost paid off five minutes into the second half when Taher broke into the area on the left and forced Bremen goalkeeper Tim Wiese into his first save of the evening. With Bremen still pressing for the breakthrough Thomas Schaaf decided to replace Rosenberg with Boubacar Sanogo and the substitute nearly made his mark four minutes later, Boenisch picking him out inside the penalty area but the striker's aim was too high.
With time running out, Schaaf opted to replace Pizarro with Almeida but as time ticked away Bremen increasingly ran out of ideas and grew increasingly frustrated by the visitors' resilience. Redemption beckoned when Özil released Almeida with a perfectly weighted through-ball, but the Portuguese international hurried his shot and fired wide, summing up Bremen's night.