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Athletic stumble against slick Bremen

Athletic Club 0-3 Werder Bremen
Goals from Claudio Pizarro, Naldo and Markus Rosenberg ensured there was only one ever winner in the race for top spot in Group L.

Athletic stumble against slick Bremen
Athletic stumble against slick Bremen ©UEFA.com

Three first-half goals earned Werder Bremen a 3-0 victory over fellow round of 32 qualifiers Athletic Club and top spot in UEFA Europa League Group L.

Strong opening
With both teams already safely into Friday's draw, the onus was on Los Leones to secure at least a 2-0 triumph in order to steal first place in the section from last season's UEFA Cup runners-up. Those hopes soon faded, however, with a dominant Werder three to the good inside 36 minutes courtesy of headers from Claudio Pizarro and Naldo and a shot from Markus Rosenberg.

Away goals
Shorn of the injured Fernando Llorente, Athletic posed little attacking threat in a game decided by Werder's first-half slickness. Pizarro's 13th-minute header from Rosenberg's cross from the right was the Peruvian's fifth goal of the tournament while Naldo registered his second in the campaign when he headed home Sebastian Prödl's free-kick on 20 minutes. Pizarro was again involved in his team's third, his pass defelected into the path of Rosenberg who side-footed home.

Attempted revival
Despite the scoreline, Joaquín Caparrós's team – showing five changes from the weekend Liga win against Real Zaragoza – did not lose heart and emerged for the second period determined to reduce the arrears. Displaying quick feet down the left, Markel Susaeta found space before centering for Gaizka Toquero whose shot from the edge of the area brought a flying save from Tim Wiese. Toquero was again foiled by Wiese shortly afterwards when the goalkeeper saved low down to his left. That was the closest Los Rojiblancos would come to scoring, with Werder comfortably holding on to complete a victorious double over their Spanish counterparts.