Werder scores a late equaliser against Milan

Brazil midfielder Diego gave Werder Bremen a UEFA Cup lifeline with a late equaliser on Wednesday to seal a 1-1 draw against AC Milan in the Round of 32 first-leg clash.

Werder scores a late equaliser against Milan
Photo: DPA

“The goal really pleased me, it is very important and was a special strike,” said Diego after his crucial goal with just six minutes remaining. “Nevertheless, we cannot be content with 1-1, it was always going to be hard in Milan and the draw makes things harder still, but we are determined to progress in the tournament.”

Many of the 36,000-strong crowd had come to see AC Milan’s England star David Beckham, on loan from LA Galaxy, while the Italian giants wrestle with the United States club for the services of the global superstar.

But Beckham spent the vast majority of the game on the bench and it was Bremen’s Brazilian who kept his side in the competition with an 84th-minute goal after he finally found the net after the home side squandered a huge amount of chances.

“We played the second-half determined to score a goal against AC Milan, that gives me hope,” said Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf. “Unfortunately, we do not have superiority in the scoreline. “1-1 against Milan is not bad, but not good enough for the amount of energy we spent. However, if we repeat that second-half in Milan, we would be in with a chance.”

Bremen are struggling at tenth in the Bundesliga, while AC Milan are third in Serie A, but it was the Germans who took the game to the Italians.

Diego’s super strike mean Bremen go to Milan’s San Siro stadium on February 26 for the second-leg with a slim chance, but with 23 shots on goal – compared to Milan’s seven – Bremen should have won the game.

The Italians took the lead when Filippo Inzaghi’s initial header from a Mathieu Flamini cross was blocked, but the striker was on hand to put Milan ahead by pouncing left-footed on the rebound after just 32 minutes. It was veteran Inzaghi’s 66th strike in UEFA club competition.

It looked like Milan had secured a precious away win until Diego rifled the ball into the back of the net after Portuguese striker Hugo Almeida won the ball in the air and the Brazilian made no mistake on 84 minutes.

With Galaxy and Milan tussling for Beckham, the ex-England captain played no more than a cameo role when he took over from Brazil’s Ronaldinho after 89 minutes. It remains to be seen if he will be a confirmed Galaxy or Milan player by the time of the second leg next Thursday.

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EXPLAINED: The Covid rules for attending German football matches

The German Bundesliga kicks off on Friday evening with a match in Mönchengladbach. Here's a run-down of the Covid rules for football fans itching to join the crowds at the stadium.

EXPLAINED: The Covid rules for attending German football matches
Crowds cheer at a match between FC Kaiserslautern and Borussia Mönchengladbach, on August 9th, 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Uwe Anspach

All eyes will be on Mönchengladbach this evening as the Bundesliga season kicks off with a match against reigning champions Bayern Munich – and this time, a crowd will be present in the stadium.

READ ALSO: German football fans get green light to return to stadiums next season

With several states liberalising their rules for public gatherings in recent months, many football fans are looking forward to enjoying a lively atmosphere at football matches once more. 

There’s just one problem: there are different rules for different stadiums. Here’s what you need to know about the Covid rules before you book your ticket for any of the upcoming fixtures. 

How many fans are allowed in the stadiums? 

According to a recent decision by the federal and state governments, football stadiums around the country are allowed to fill half of their seats and sell up to 25,000 tickets to fans. 

Of course, how much this limit affects the overall atmosphere – and the football clubs’ bottoms lines – depends on the capacity of the stadium. In Borussia Dortmund this weekend, the full 25,000 tickets have been sold – but that only equates to 30 percent of the stadium’s full capacity.

READ ALSO: German football: Which Bundesliga club should I support?

Meanwhile, in the stadium owned by Berlin’s FC Union, selling just 11,000 tickets is enough to fill half of the available seats. 

What do I need to show to get in? 

That really depends on the stadium in question, although in general anyone over the age of six will need to show a negative test or proof of vaccination or recovery – the so-called ‘3G’ rule – to enter the grounds. But other clubs, such as FC Cologne, have decided to only permit people who are vaccinated or recovered to attend matches from August 28th onwards – with exceptions for people who can’t get vaccinated, like children and pregnant woman.

At Mönchengladbach’s Borussia Park stadium, however, unvaccinated fans can enter with a negative test, though visitors who’ve stayed in a high-risk or virus variant area over the past two weeks will be unable to enter – along with people who’ve had recent contact with someone who has Covid. 

If you want to see action like this at FC Cologne’s stadium, you’ll need to get your Covid jabs sorted first. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Robert Michael

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund has taken a middle ground. While the 3G rule applies in principle, only 1,000 of the available 25,000 tickets will be sold to people who are providing a negative test. The remaining 24,000 seats will only be available for those who are vaccinated against – or recently recovered from – Covid. 

If you’re not vaccinated and are keen to see a match, it’s worth checking on your local club’s website beforehand or sending them an email to double-check whether you will be allowed in. 

What else do I need to know about? 

You’ll need to bring a FPP2 mask with you to matches to wear in your seat and while heading to the bathroom or bar, and also observe social distancing rules – meaning staying 1.5 metres apart from your fellow fans.

In most states, you’ll also need to provide your contact details, which will be saved by the club and potentially passed on to local health authorities in order to monitor a potential Covid outbreak. 

Will these rules continue throughout the season?

That’s still an open question. If infection rates in Germany continue to rise or high-profile superspreading events occur at future matches, the government could potentially crack down further on sports events in autumn.

This could involve limiting the seat numbers even further, or (more controversially), introducing a ‘vaccinated-only’ rule for entering stadiums. 

READ ALSO: Should Germany bring in Covid restrictions for unvaccinated people only?

A recent outbreak of Covid in the Mainz football team has also dampened celebrations slightly in the run-up to the start of the Bundesliga – leaving club owners urgently calling for both fans and footballers to get vaccinated. 

Speaking to WDR ahead of the season’s start, FC Cologne’s managing director Alexander Wehrle said widespread vaccination was the best route back to normality – a message reiterated by Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann.