It was the moment all SV Werder Bremen fans had been waiting for: Claudio Pizarro’s first goal since returning to the club for the third time earlier this summer.
The fact the Bundesliga’s record foreign goalscorer paved the way for a welcome 2-1 win at rock-bottom FC Augsburg only added to the occasion.
"The goal was great for me," Pizarro - at the ripe old age of 37 no less - said of his first Bundesliga strike since securing former club FC Bayern München an injury-time 1-0 triumph over VfB Stuttgart on the final day of the 2013/14 campaign. "We were in a difficult situation and the win has given the team a renewed sense of confidence."
A lack of match fitness had restricted the Peru international to just one Bundesliga start and seven substitute appearances prior to Sunday’s clash at the WWK Arena, but the Bremen hero does not appear to have lost an ounce of his killer instinct in front of goal. Just 13 minutes after replacing Anthony Ujah in attack, a sublime volley from Santiago Garcia’s diagonal pass sent the visiting fans into raptures. Their beloved 'Pizza' was back.
Skripnik and Co. impressed
"He showed that he’s not just a big name, but that he’s also an important player for us," enthused Bremen head coach Viktor Skripnik, who played alongside Pizarro during the Peruvian’s first stint in a Werder shirt between 1999 and 2001. "One chance, one goal - it’s just unbelievable!"
Bremen midfielder Zlatko Junuzovic echoed his coach’s sentiments: "It’s always important to have ice-cool finishers like that. The way he took the cross, that’s Pizza! Technically it was awesome. If Toni [Anthony Ujah] doesn’t score, Pizza’s there. He’s playing better now and is in better shape physically."
Bremen looking up
For the Bremen faithful, there was surely never any doubt that the seventh-highest goalscorer in Bundesliga history on 177 goals would come good again. His goalscoring reputation precedes him, his experience as a six-time Bundesliga winner is priceless and his attitude is nothing short of exemplary. "When you haven’t scored for such a long time, it’s even harder because you don’t have any confidence," Pizarro admitted. "I’ve worked really hard and the goal was the reward."
In beating Augsburg, Bremen moved of the relegation play-off spot. Expectations may have been reined in somewhat in spite of last term’s tenth-placed finish, but at least with a fit and firing Pizarro back in their ranks, the Green-Whites will likely no longer need to worry about being dragged back into the bottom three.