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Milan foiled by late Diego equalizer for Werder

A late equalizer from Werder Bremen's Brazilian international Diego denied AC Milan victory in their UEFA Cup first knockout round first leg tie in Germany yesterday.

Midfielder Diego rewarded a strong second-half display from the Bundesliga side six minutes from time by controlling Hugo Almeida's header with his chest before firing past Dida to secure a 1-1 draw.

Filippo Inzaghi had put competition favourites Milan ahead on 36 minutes, the striker firing in a rebound after his own header from Mathieu Flamini's cross had been blocked.

On-loan midfielder David Beckham came off the bench for the final two minutes after being added to Milan's UEFA Cup squad despite uncertainties over his future with the Serie A side. Beckham, on a two-month loan from Los Angeles Galaxy, has said he wants to stay in Italy.

Holders Zenit St Petersburg began life without influential playmaker Andrei Arshavin by defeating VfB Stuttgart 2-1.

Arshavin, instrumental in Zenit's first European triumph last year, completed a move to Arsenal earlier this month after protracted negotiations with the Premier League side.

Ukraine international Anatoliy Tymoschuk blasted the Russian side 2-1 ahead in first-half stoppage time with a fierce shot after latching on to Danny's pass.

New signing Szabolcs Huszti had fired Zenit ahead on his debut after two minutes, the Hungarian international pouncing on a rebound before Mario Gomez grabbed what could be a crucial away goal following a lengthy run.

The competition's leading scorer Vagner Love took his tally to nine this season with a first-half goal in CSKA Moscow's 1-1 draw in Birmingham with Aston Villa.

Brazilian Love worked a one-two with strike partner Alan Dzagoyev before advancing to fire past keeper Brad Guzan and hand CSKA a 14th-minute lead.


Norwegian striker John Carew capped a sustained spell of Villa pressure to sweep in the equaliser on 69 minutes from Craig Gardner's pass.

"We cannot be disappointed but we had our chances to win," Carew told Channel Five television.

"The away game will be more difficult...we will have to prepare well but we believe we can still do it."

Brazilian coach Zico took charge of CSKA for the first time after replacing Valery Gazzaev who led the Russians to their 2005 UEFA Cup triumph and ended his long association with the club in December.

St Etienne, back in Europe this season for the first time in 26 years, continue to defy their poor Ligue 1 form and rekindle memories of their heyday in the 1960s and 1970s.

Les Verts, 10-times French champions and beaten 1976 European Cup finalists, secured an impressive 3-1 away win at Olympiakos Piraeus, who had previously gone nine matches unbeaten at home in Europe.

Despite being entrenched in a battle to avoid relegation from Ligue 1, St Etienne took the game to Olympiakos and led 2-0 at the interval through Brazilian striker Ilan and midfielder Geoffrey Dernis. A penalty from Predrag Djordjevic gave the hosts hope but Bafetimbi Gomis struck a third in stoppage time.

Valencia, the 2004 winners, drew 1-1 in Ukraine against Dynamo Kiev, Paris St Germain striker Guillaume Hoarau scored twice in the final 10 minutes in a 2-0 home victory over VfL Wolfsburg and Hamburg SV all but booked their last 16 place after easing to a 3-0 win away to NEC Nijmegen.

The remaining five last 32 first leg ties take place today. The final will be staged in Istanbul on May 20.


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