Bremen comes back to draw with Tottenham
Werder Bremen fought back from an early two-goal deficit to earn a 2-2 draw at home against Champions League debutant Tottenham Hotspur in the teams' Group A opener on Tuesday.
The English side jumped ahead 2-0 thanks to an own goal by Bremen defender Petri Pasanen after 12 minutes and Peter Crouch's header in the 18th.
Bremen, however, pulled a goal back two minutes before the break on a header by Hugo Almeida, and Marko Marin knotted the contest two minutes after halftime.
''In the first half we played so passive,'' Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf said. ''Everything we did well in the Bundesliga game against Bayern (a 0-0 draw in Munich) was gone. We just let things pass over us. And in this competition you get punished for that.
Bremen captain Torsten Frings was also unhappy with way the host began.
''We slept through the start of the game (but) the goal before the break helped us turn it around. We would have liked to have completely reversed the game and won but we have to be satisified with this point.''
Tottenham playmaker Rafael van der Vaart was disappointed his team could not hold on after its strong start.
''I think we played well in the first 30 minutes and there was a little misfortune that we allowed the goal shortly before the break,'' Van der Vaart said. ''But we are happy that we have a point in our first match.''
Tottenham is appearing in the Champions League for the first time, while Bremen returns after a year in the Europa League, which snapped a five-year streak in Europe's top competition for the northern Germans.
Playing without their starting center backs Naldo and Per Mertesacker, Bremen, which was also missing striker Claudio Pizarro, had major problems dealing with England international Crouch early on.
Gareth Bale was fed down the left before crossing into the box where Pasanen put into his own goal with Crouch lurking behind him.
Crouch doubled the advantage just six minutes later, leaping over Pasanen to head Van der Vaart's cross into the left corner for a 2-0 lead for the visitors.
Werder was calling for a penalty in the 27th minute with Marin's blast striking Tom Huddlestone's elbow but referee Massimo Busacca refused to point to the spot.
Bremen pulled a goal back in the 43rd minute after Wesley's cross from the left found Almeida in the area and the Portugal striker nodded past Tottenham 'keeper Carlo Cudicini.
Bremen did not need long to even the game after halftime, with Germany international Marin given space to turn in from the left wing and unleash a low shot into the near corner from 20 yards out.
The host was more dangerous over the rest of the second half, Almeida volleying over the bar in the 55th and Marin just missing the target 12 minutes later. Aaron Hunt also saw a shot sail wide of the post as Bremen pushed forward looking for victory in the closing stages.
Tottenham next hosts Twente in Group A on Sept. 29 while Bremen travels to the competition's defending champion, Inter Milan, on the same night.