Hamburg win; Dynamo held

LONDON: Hamburg made themselves favourite to reach next month’s UEFA Cup final with a 1-0 semi-final win at Werder Bremen, and Shakhtar Donetsk are likely to fill the other spot after a 1-1 draw at Dynamo Kiev on Thursday.

Germany midfielder Piotr Trochowski hit the winning goal for Hamburg against their German rivals in the 28th minute, heading in at the far post from a cross by Guy Demel.

Hamburg needs only to avoid defeat in next week’s second leg to qualify for the May 20 final in Istanbul. Shakhtar could make it through with a scoreless draw after securing a 1-1 result through a second-half goal by Fernandinho.

Bremen goalkeeper Tim Wiese, who stopped three penalties when Werder eliminated Hamburg in the semifinals of the German Cup last week, kept his team’s chances alive in the two-legged semi-final with several good saves, including one from Ivica Olic early in the game. The goalkeeper also turned away striker Paolo Guerrero’s low shot in the 22nd.

On the other side, Frank Rost was busy in Hamburg’s goal early in the match, foiling Diego for what was Bremen’s best chance. But after Bremen’s early pressure, Hamburg controlled the game and created several chances. The one they did convert came when Trochowski headed Demel’s cross from the right flank over Wiese’s outstretched arms and just inside the far post.

Werder also had the upper hand early in the second half and Hugo Almeida nearly beat Rost with a header after the Hamburg ‘keeper had failed to handle a cross. But Rost recovered to make a good save.

Defender Sebastian Boenisch narrowly missed in the 59th and Almeida missed with another header before he was replaced by Markus Rosenberg. Guerrero got his second booking then and will miss the return leg. The win put Hamburg close to their first final in a European competition since they won the European Cup, the precursor to the Champions League, in 1983.

Dynamo took the lead against their Ukrainian rivals in the 22nd minute when Shakhtar defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy put Oleksandr Aliyev’s powerful free kick into his own net while struggling with striker Artem Milevskiy at the far post.

But neither of the clubs, who have played each other 135 times, dominated the first half. Dynamo had seven shots but only one was on goal — midfielder Carlos Correa shaved the right post with a powerful drive from outside the box in injury time.

Still, Milevskiy missed a chance to make it 2-0 when he headed over a curling free kick by Aliyev in the 53rd. Fernandinho levelled 15 minutes later. Jadson broke down the right flank and passed to Willian, who moved ahead and crossed into the box for the Brazilian player to put it in.

Both the second leg semi-final matches are slated for next Thursday.