There was no shortage of goals as Germany's Hanseatic giants Hamburger SV and Werder Bremen both took significant steps towards the UEFA Europa League group stage with blazing victories, their two games producing 15 goals in total. Yet while the northern rivals had their free-scoring exploits in common, there was one significant difference.
France is in the midst of a heatwave but Hamburg wasted little time in dampening the spirits of Ligue 2's EA Guingamp as goals from José Paolo Guerrero and Mladen Petrić put the visitors 2-0 up inside eleven minutes. "It was important to score early," said Guerrero. "We knew we were up against a very defensive side and even after our early goals they defended with passion. But in the end we capitalised on our chances and deservedly won." And in some style too. Petrić ended up with a hat-trick, while Marcus Berg also registered in a scintillating performance sullied only by goalkeeper Wolfgang Hesl's late own goal. "I am annoyed by the goal we conceded but, obviously, the positive things outweigh it," said Hamburg coach Bruno Labbadia, before praising his three on-fire strikers. "It's great that we have such competition in attack – it's exactly what we need."
Bremen's attack went one better but their first-leg advantage over FK Aktobe proved much harder to come by as Sergei Strukov twice equalised for the Kazakhstani minnows. Four goals without reply finally put paid to any hopes of eking out an advantage to take home next week, but they still had the last say when Samat Smakov rifled in a free-kick. Claudio Pizarro, one of five Bremen goalscorers, was unperturbed, however. "It was important for me and the team to win this match and 6-3 is a great result," he said, though that was not a sentiment shared by Thomas Schaaf. "We made too many mistakes and allowed them way too many chances," explained the coach. Five of Bremen's six goals came from set-pieces, but Schaaf added: "We could have scored more, we created some nice opportunities from open play as well."
©UEFA.com 1998-2016. All rights reserved.