VfB Stuttgart were denied a first win under new boss Markus Babbel as Paolo Sammarco cancelled out Ciprian Marica's opener against UC Sampdoria in Genoa.
Babbel took charge of the Bundesliga side following the dismissal of coach Armin Veh on Monday, and looked to be headed for victory in his first game in charge when Romanian international Marica put his side into an eighth-minute lead. However, Sammarco struck to level the scores before the interval, to leave both sides with four Group C points and a good chance of progressing.
Jens Lehmann was in the action early as Sampdoria earned a corner in the seventh minute. Antonio Cassano delivered to the far post, where Emiliano Bonazzoli aimed an effort at goal, but the 39-year-old goalkeeper held it. Stuttgart took the lead moments later, with Marica finishing from a loose ball after Pietro Accardi had tackled in-form striker Mario Gómez.
At the other end, Cassano tried his luck from the edge of the box but sent his shot wide, and there was little in the way of chances over the next half-hour, which perhaps accounted for a moment of uncertainty from Lehmann eight minutes before the break. The former Arsenal FC stopper spilled a shot from Daniele Franceschini, but no Sampdoria player was on hand to take advantage. The Genoa side did level matters moments later though, with Sammarco positioned well to convert Cassano's inswinging corner.
Six minutes after the break a speculative effort from Stuttgart's Thomas Hitzlsperger went wide, before Gómez failed to direct a close-range header goalwards. Marica tried his luck from 20 metres, Cassano and Franceschini let fly for Sampdoria, but the nearest either side came to a second-half goal was when Lehmann saved comfortably from a Reto Ziegler effort.