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The late goal that Giampaolo Pazzini headed past Tim Wiese in the Weser-Stadion on Wednesday night provides a warning that SV Werder Bremen would be foolish to ignore, according to goalscorer Clemens Fritz.
Fritz struck a spectacular opening effort in their 3-1 first-leg win against UC Sampdoria but admitted afterwards that he had a "bitter" taste in his mouth after Pazzini's 90th-minute strike breathed new life into a play-off contest that the German team looked to have firmly under control. "
The goal Sampdoria scored was avoidable and leaves a bitter aftertaste but it should serve as a warning for the second leg," said the midfielder. "We have seen teams overturn deficits many times in the past, although I still think we will reach the group stage."
The Bundesliga side's captain, Torsten Frings, was even more clear-cut in his appraisal when he declared that "at 3-0, I think we were in the next round". It was Frings who doubled Bremen's lead with a penalty midway through the second half, following Fritz's long-range effort six minutes after the break. With Sampdoria reduced to ten men by the red card shown to defender Stefano Lucchini after conceding that spot-kick, Bremen took advantage through Claudio Pizarro's deflected third after 69 minutes.
Although Pazzini had gone close twice – with an early header and a second-half shot against a post – the greater European know-how of a Bremen side who had participated in five successive UEFA Champions League campaigns prior to last season looked to have told against their Serie A opponents. With 64% of possession and eight shots on target to Sampdoria's two, Thomas Schaaf's men had the better of the game and were just moments away from recording the biggest win of this week's ten play-off ties.
There remains work to be done now, though, as defender Per Mertesacker recognised. He said: "Everybody saw from the first minute that we went out to win the game. Sampdoria played as we expected but our defence was very good. In the second leg in Genoa they will play more offensively and will push forward more so we will have to concentrate and need a good performance." Captain Frings is confident that come next Tuesday night they will get just that and return to the group stage. "
I think we can do a good job in Italy and get through."
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