It was a moment of individual brilliance by Theo Janssen that ultimately separated FC Twente and Werder Bremen. The 28-year-old Dutch midfielder fired home from distance to give his side a crucial 1-0 advantage in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie against Werder Bremen, but his team-mates' contribution was every bit as important.
Twente's 39-year-old keeper Sander Boschker put in another sterling display, making numerous vital interventions to keep the dominant Germans at bay. His point-blank block when eye-to-eye with Claudio Pizzaro in the first half was particularly telling, but his back four also distinguished themselves. "We played fine and were properly organised," acknowledged full-back Dwight Tiendalli. "The key today was our defence; we did well as a unit. It's very important that you prevent the opposition from scoring when you're playing at home. We managed to do that."
"I thought we deserved the victory in the end," added team-mate Miroslav Stoch. "We wanted to show to everyone that we can play against sides like Bremen, who are one of the best in Europe. They had a lot of chances in the first half, but in the second half we did really well at the back and concentrated. Everyone was doing the right thing for the team."
For Peter Niemeyer, the Werder midfielder who made over 100 appearances for Twente between 2002 and 2007, the evening was obviously a bittersweet affair. "It was very nice to receive an ovation from the home supporters when I was substituted in the second half, but we came here to win so I'm obviously disappointed," he said. "If we'd taken our chances in the first half it would have been a different story but we were punished for it. Twente deserve credit because they managed to close out the game and limit the amount of openings we could create."
Tonight's victory has given Steve McClaren's men plenty of self-belief. "They will be more attack-minded next week, but if we can play with as much discipline as we did tonight then we definitely have a chance of progressing," said Tiendalli. Stoch was equally bullish. "We showed character today, and we hope we can play even better next week in Bremen and go through," said Twente's 20-year-old Slovakian midfielder.
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