Bremen, Shakhtar reach Istanbul
Germany's Werder Bremen will face Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine in the UEFA Cup final after coming through thrilling semi-finals.
Second-half goals by Claudio Pizarro and captain Frank Baumann sealed a 3-2 win for Bremen at German rivals Hamburg and a ticket to the 20 May final in Istanbul courtesy of the away goals rule. Germany winger Piotr Trochowski had given Hamburg a 1-0 advantage from Bremen's Weserstadion last Thursday in the first leg, but goals by Diego, Pizarro and Baumann cancelled out a brace from Hamburg's Ivica Olic. "It was a great and open game - sensational," said Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf. "We always believed we could do it and we kept working until the end."
Goal-scorer Diego, who is being courted by Italian giants Juventus, said Bremen had decided the game before half-time. "I think it was a hard game, we decided the game in the first half, this was important for us, we were the best team," said Diego.
The Brazilian said he is focused solely on winning the UEFA Cup now and any decision over a possible switch to Italy will be taken at the season's end. "Right now, I am just concentrating on Werder Bremen, it is an important moment for me and the club," said the Brazilian. "I am 200 per cent for Bremen at the moment and any decision on my future will be taken at the end of the season."
After Bremen knocked out Hamburg on penalties in the German Cup in the semi-finals late last month, this was the third meeting between the two sides who will meet each other again on Sunday in the Bundesliga.
Shakhtar thanked their Brazilian contingent's eye for goal as they saw off fellow Ukrainians Dynamo Kiev 2-1 (3-2 on aggregate) to reach the final for the first time. Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu praised his team. "We are now a part of the history of European football," he said. "It was a tough game as Dynamo were at their best as well."
Brazilian Ilsinho netted a goal fit to win any game, finishing with aplomb at the end of a flowing move two minutes from time. After drawing the away leg 1-1, Donetsk survived an early scare, Ismael Bangoura firing an early effort just wide for the visitors. But Ilsinho's countryman Jadson put Shakhtar in front in the 17th minute when Kiev's Brazilian defender Ebert Betao failed to clear.
Dynamo came out fighting and two minutes into the second period they levelled after Artem Milevskiy fed Oleksandr Aliev, who in turn found Bangoura steaming through and he chipped Shakhtar keeper Andriy Pyatov. With extra-time looming, Kiev's Moroccan midfielder Badr El Kaddouri failed to cut out a through ball and Ilsinho pounced to outpace Nigerian Aliya Yussuf and slam a fine left-foot shot low into the bottom corner.