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Deadly Pizarro kills Nacional comeback

CD Nacional 2-3 Werder Bremen
Claudio Pizarro secured the points with five minutes remaining in Madeira just as a famous Nacional triumph seemed on the cards.

Claudio Pizarro celebrates after making it 2-0
Claudio Pizarro celebrates after making it 2-0 ©Getty Images

Claudio Pizarro secured the Group L points for Werder Bremen with five minutes remaining in Madeira just as a famous CD Nacional triumph seemed on the cards, the hosts coming from 2-0 down before experience told.

The Bundesliga side were cruising after Torsten Frings' penalty and a Pizarro tap-in either side of half-time but there was a twist in the tail. Defender Felipe Lopes caused palpitations among visiting fans when he reduced the deficit from a set-piece midway through the second period, and when Rafik Halliche added another seven minutes later even a UEFA Europa League draw was far from certain. Yet Pizarro exuded cool, calmly slotting in after working space on the edge of the penalty area.

Wiese intervenes
Werder arrived in Funchal without the inspirational Mesut Özil due to a knee problem, but his absence was not keenly felt early on as Aaron Hunt stepped into the breach. He had a free-kick blocked and Pizarro warmed Rafael Bracali's hands with another set-piece, yet Nacional looked lively on the break and Edgar – who had already had a goal chalked out for offside – showed great vigilance as he intercepted Clemens Fritz's poor header back. Fortunately for Fritz, goalkeeper Tim Wiese was equally alert.

Dramatic finale
Back came Bremen. Bracali denied Philipp Bargfrede after good work from Marko Marin and the pressure told six minutes before half-time when Luís Alberto brought down Pizarro. Up stepped Frings, his scuffed spot-kick creeping beneath Bracali and ten minutes after the restart the points looked to be in the bag as Pizarro converted Hunt's centre from close range. Bargfrede should have put the match beyond doubt after fine work by Pizarro and Marin, and the visitors almost paid for their profligacy. Lopes headed in a corner and Halliche volleyed in a free-kick, raising hopes of a memorable win before Pizarro emphatically ended them.