Thursday, April 26, 2007
A Fan for a Day: Espanyol v Werder Bremen
Werder Bremen strode into the Estadi Olimpic de Montjuic, home of Barcelona's other team Espanyol, the clear favorites... but by the end of the 90 minutes it was equally clear that the aging Espanyol squad had not yet heard the news that their own UEFA Cup semi-final dreams were to remain just that. Bremen moved menacingly toward goal in the early stages of the game, but a steady and contemplative Espanyol slipped the first dagger in via a splendid corner kick by Ivan de la Pena to Francisco Rufete who subsequently crossed to an eager Moises Hurtado for a goal in the 20th. In the opening stages of the second half, Bremen were still focused and attack-minded, but disaster struck in the 50th minute when Espanyol's Walter Pandiani headed in the ball past Bremen keeper Tim Wiese. And it was downhill from there.... Eight minutes later the home side's Raul Tamudo broke free from his defenders in the midfield and kept the advantage as he sprinted toward a second goal, curving his body and ball past the charging Wiese. Unfortunately, a body can only twist so much and Tamudo's ability to stay on his feet was tested by a cynical Wiese, who I guess was more at ease with a red card than with yet another goal slicing past him. It would have been a beautiful goal and moment for Tamudo and Espanyol's feverish supporters, but that third goal would have to wait until later. With Wiese off, Bremen put in 38-year old Andreas Reinke to man the posts, but his valiant efforts to stave off a third goal dissolved in the 88th when substitute Ferran Corominas shot one into the net, solidifying a well-deserved first leg victory for the Spanish club who has not exactly been burning up the standings in La Liga this season. Espanyol win 3-0. Next week's second leg match at Bremen, it goes without saying, should be mandatory viewing for fans of the Spanish game and anyone else out there who is more than a little disappointed/underwhelmed by the remaining teams involved in that other European tournament.