Werder Bremen stunned mighty AC Milan by coming back from a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 and send the Italian giants crashing out of the UEFA Cup at the San Siro.
Milan were cruising at half-time as they led 2-0 in their round of 32,second leg tie through goals from Andrea Pirlo and Pato but a stirring second-half fightback from Werder saw them through on away goals after a 3-3 draw on aggregate.
Milan president and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was already fuming after the Italians conceded a late equaliser last week in Germany but this latest collapse at home could bring coach Carlo Ancelotti’s job into question.
The final whistle was met with a chorus of jeers from the pitiful home crowd that numbered less than 24,000 but Ancelotti remained defiant about his position. “I don’t feel under threat even if I take all the responsibility,” he said.
“I’m not trying to mask it,the season has been a bad one but now we have to try to achieve our last objective (finishing in the top three in Serie A). It won’t be easy,we’ve got to try to play to the best of our abilities.”
Milan are already out of the Italian Cup and trail city rivals Inter Milan by a massive 11 points in the league,meaning the UEFA Cup had seemed their only remaining realistic hope of claiming silverware this season.
Bremen came out the stronger of the two sides as Milan seemed to take their time to settle into the rhythm of the game.
Werder’s Peru forward Claudio Pizarro played a neat one-two with Brazilian Diego in the second minute before firing just wide of the upright.
Bremen bossed the early stages and Diego twice stung Milan goalkeeper Dida’s hands with shots from distance. But it was a controversial refereeing decision that changed the course of the game in the hosts’ favour.
David Beckham blasted a free-kick into the three-man wall in front of him but the ball crashed into Torsten Frings’s arm and Jonas Eriksson pointed to the spot.
It was a harsh decision and Pirlo added insult to injury by clipping home the penalty into the bottom corner on 26 minutes.
Werder still enjoyed the bulk of possession but were stunned on 33 minutes as Milan doubled their advantage.
Veteran defender Paolo Maldini launched a long ball forward for Pato and while the Bremen defence backed off the teenager thrashed a shot over Christian Vander and into the roof of the net.
Bremen should have pulled a goal back before half time but centre-back Per Mertesacker headed over the bar from Mesut Ozil’s cross.
The visitors kept plugging away after the break and it needed a last-gasp block from Gianluca Zambrotta to deny Pizarro a clear goal scoring chance.
At the other end,Pato was brimming with confidence and tried his luck from 45 yards with a first time volley that didn’t have enough power to beat Vander.
The game started to peter out until the 68th minute when Pizarro headed home a Diego free-kick to inject some life into the tie.
Werder were very much in the ascendancy now and it was no surprise when they equalised 11 minutes from time with a goal of consummate simplicity.
Sebastian Boenisch pumped a high ball into the box and Pizarro rose unopposed to head easily past a stranded Dida.