Espanyol downed the mighty Werder Bremen with goals from Moises, Pandiani and Corminas at the Montjuic Olympic stadium last night, and are now firm favourites to reach the final of this year's UEFA Cup final. In yesterday's other semi-final first leg, Osasuna beat the holders, Sevilla -who have not won in Pamplona since the 92-93 season- by just the one goal, a headed effort by Soldado ten minutes into the second half from a corner.
Set-pieces also played a big part in Espanyol's victory with both their first two goals coming from corners. The first came in the 20th from a short corner taken by De la Peña, who passed the ball to Rufete whose cross found the head of Moises, whose night was soured five minutes later when he picked up a yellow card that rules him out of next week's trip to Germany.
UEFA-Cup top scorer and former Birmingham City striker, Walter Pandiani (photo), doubled the lead ten minutes after the break, getting the faintest of touches on a near-post corner on the right to float the ball over the head of Werder keeper, Tim Wiese, who further blotted his copybook less than five minutes later when he saw red for a cynical professional foul on Raúl Tamudo, who would otherwise have been through on goal.
In the 67th minute, Pandiani suffered the same fate as Moises when he picked up a booking that also rules him out of next week's second leg.
With the visitors throwing everything forward in search of an away goal, the pick of Espanyol's three strikes came in the 88th minute when Corominas put the finishing touch to a fluid counter-attacking move, converting Albert Riera's cross in from the left flank from close range.