Chelsea 1 Atletico Madrid 3
Chelsea’s hopes of reaching the Champions League Final were ended at Stamford Bridge by an excellent Atletico Madrid side who will face their city rivals Real in Lisbon on May 24th. The Blues took the lead through former Atletico striker Fernando Torres but the visitors equalised through Lopez just before the break. A Costa penalty and an Turan strike sealed the win for Diego Simeone’s men.
There was more European heartache for John Terry, who returned to the side despite having suffered what appeared to be a serious injury in Madrid last week. Cesar Azpilicueta was moved to midfield with Ashley Cole remaining at left-back and Gary Cahill returned to the centre of defence. Eden Hazard was also back after injury.
After the cagey encounter in Spain a week ago it was slightly surprising to see both sides playing such open football in the early stages. Atletico could have seized an early advantage when Koke’s looping cross beat Mark Schwarzer but then hit the crossbar and was deflected onto the roof of the net by Gary Cahill.
It was a warning for Chelsea but the game was pretty even and Willian sent a free-kick just over the bar on 13 minutes. Atletico weren’t creating an awful lot but they looked reasonably dangerous on the break although it was Chelsea who threatened next. David Luiz tried an overhead kick which went just wide and Chelsea were looking slightly the more likely to take the lead.
Just after the half hour mark the breakthrough came. Willian held off two Atletico defenders down the right before feeding Azpilicueta, who rifled a cross into the box and Torres was there to sweep home. He didn’t celebrate out of respect to his old club but Stamford Bridge was bouncing and the final was only an hour away.
But Atletico were in no mood to lie down and accept defeat. Adrian Lopez forced Schwarzer into a save with a simple header before levelling the scores minutes later. Tiago’s ball into the box evaded every blue shirt and fell to Lopez to hammer into the net and make it 1-1. His side now had a crucial away goal and Chelsea had to score to go through.
But the score at the break wasn’t a bad one for Chelsea, or wouldn’t have been if they had managed to turn up in the second period. Instead it was the visitors who were on top from the word go and Schwarzer was forced into action to deny Turan after another cross deceived the Chelsea defence.
Then came what Mourinho later described as sixty seconds which changed the game. Willian’s free-kick found Terry in the box and he seemed certain to score only to have his header brilliantly stopped by Courtois. José Mourinho then decided the time was right to introduce Samuel Eto’o for Cole but the Cameroonian’s first action was to trip Diego Costa inside the box and concede a penalty.
Costa took his time complaining about the state of the penalty spot before stepping up to smash the ball into the net and make it 2-1. Chelsea now had to score twice.
They went after the game and Luiz hit the post before Courtois cleared the rebound but in going for the equaliser the Blues were leaving too much room at the back. A swift break from Atletico found Turan and he hit the bar with his header before tucking the rebound into the net. Chelsea were now all but out.
Demba Ba and Andre Schurrle came on to try and create some kind of redeemable position for their side but it was Atletico who looked more likely to add a fourth. Despite their best efforts Chelsea couldn’t even find a goal to produce nerves among Siemeone’s men and they were knocked out of the Champions League at the Semi-Final stage once again. Now only two games of the season remain, with the Premier League trophy the only prize left to fight for.
Chelsea; Schwarzer, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole (Eto’o 53), Ramires, Luiz, Azpilicueta, Willian (Schurrle 76), Hazard, Torres (Ba 66)
Unused subs; Hilario, Kalas, Van Ginkel, Oscar
Chelsea scorer; Torres 35
Referee; N Rizzoli