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UEFA Champions League: Werder Bremen Deepens Italy's Woes; Hapoel, Basel, Partizan Through

Sevilla would have been a first pot team for the UEFA Champions League group stage draw, but with their elimination Tuesday at the hands of Portugal’s Sporting Braga, Milan likely becomes the second Italian team to be “seeded” for the group draw (joining Internazionale). That was the day’s silver lining for the Serie A, however, as a dramatic comeback by Werder Bremen at the Luigi Ferraris ensured Italy joined Spain in having a club eliminated before group stage.

Sampdoria got two early goals from Giampaolo Pazzini and an 80th minute tally from Antonio Cassano to take a 4-3 lead into the closing moments of their tie with Werder, but a goal at the death from Markus Rosenberg sent the tie into extra time, where Peruvian Claudio Pizzaro’s goal put the Bundesliga side into group stage with a 5-4 win.

Werder, who will also be a Pot A/seeded team for the group stage draw, helped Germany increase the UEFA coefficient gap between the Bundesliga and Serie A. Italy now needs to make up over five coefficient points to retain their third place, four Champions League spots standing.

In other Tuesday playoffs, the day’s biggest surprise took place in Anderlecht, where the Belgian champions conceded two goals to Serbia’s Partizan before forcing extra time with responses from Romalu Lukaku and Guillaume Gillet (the teams having drawn 2-2 in Belgrade last week). The scoreless extra period led to a shoot-out, from which Partizan advanced, winning 3-2. It is the first time since 2003-04 that Partizan has qualified for group stage, the last time a Serbian club made it that far in the competition.

Hapoel Tel Aviv had a more dramatic time of it against Salzburg than most had anticipated. Salzburg were easily defeated in Israel at the same stage last season, and having lost 2-3 last Wednesday, the Austrians were expected to provide little opposition for the Israeli champions. But an own goal from Douglas de Silva just before halftime evened the tie at three, putting Salzburg one score away from group stage. The Austrian champions ultimately came up short, with Hapoel adding a late goal from a 4-3 aggregate win.

And in the other day’s match, FC Basel went through as expected, though with unexpected ease. Carrying a 1-0 lead to Moldova for their match with FC Sheriff, the Swiss champions got a goal from Marco Streller and a brace from Alexander Frei to finish a 4-0 aggregate win.