Werder Bremen moved closer to returning to the UEFA Champions League group stage thanks to a 3-1 win over Italy's Sampdoria on Wednesday, only hours after its star Mesut Ozil signed for Real Madrid.
Clemens Fritz, Torsten Frings and Claudio Pizarro scored for Bremen, but Sampdoria, which played the last 23 minutes with 10 men, gave itself some hope for the second leg thanks to Giampaolo Pazzini's goal in the 90th minute. Bremen made five straight appearances in the group stage before missing out last season. Sampdoria hasn't played in the group stage since reaching the final in 1992.
Werder, which opens the Bundesliga season this weekend, could use some of the $20 million it will receive for Ozil to sign unsettled French striker Hatem Ben Arfa, also coveted by several English teams.