‘Now the game of our lives is at Stamford Bridge’ says Mourinho after Chelsea, Atletico draw
Atletico Madrid and Chelsea will have it all to play for when they meet in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final in London next Wednesday after a 0-0 draw in the first leg at the Vicente Calderon on Tuesday.
Chances were few as Chelsea set up to stifle the hosts, with two late headers from Raul Garcia the closest Atletico came to breaking the deadlock.
The English side did suffer two significant injuries, however, as both goalkeeper Petr Cech and captain John Terry were forced off, ruling them out of the second leg.
Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel will also be missing for Chelsea, along with Atletico captain Gabi, because they all received yellow cards that means they are suspended for the second leg, at Stamford Bridge.
“Petr Cech’s season is over,” said Mourinho of an injury later described as a separated shoulder. “Don’t ask me technically, but his season is over. For John, we’ll have to make the final for him to play again.”
Mourinho hailed his players’ defensive efforts which allows them to play “the game of their life” when they host Atletico on April 30. “This result means even more that the game will be decided by fine details in the second leg,” he said. “We had problems before the game and during the game, we lost four players; two with injuries and two with yellow cards, but we will fight.
“We were speaking about playing the game of our lives before and now the game of the lives is at Stamford Bridge.”
Diego Simeone, Atletic’s manager, remains confident his side can reach their second Champions League final next week.
“It was a classic example of a Champions League semi-final with both teams playing with their own objectives,” he said. “Ours was to score, but they have a very good defence and defended very well.
“The tie is completely open. They are playing at home and will feel better after tonight, but we will see what happens.”
Fernando Torres started in his first game back at the Calderon as a visiting player since leaving to join Liverpool in 2007, but he was an isolated figure as Chelsea were happy to stick 10 men behind the ball.
The visitors suffered a big blow after just 17 minutes, when Garcia upended Cech in his attempt to reach an Atletico corner from the left and the Czech goalkeeper was unable to continue.
Veteran Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer was forced into action to replace Cech, becoming the oldest player to appear in the knockout stages of the Champions League, at the age of 41.
“It happened very quickly, but I’m getting used to it,” Schwarzer told ITV. “I just tried to do my job but like all the others I was up for it.
“We knew if we could match their determination our quality would shine through.”
Mario Suarez shot just wide and Diego Costa had an effort brilliantly blocked by Cesar Azpilicueta as Atletico began to build up some semblance of pressure towards the end of the half.
However, Diego Ribas’s tame low effort that was easily gathered by Schwarzer was their only effort on target before the break.
Chelsea finally registered a shot on target three minutes after the restart when Lampard’s volley was well held by Thibaut Courtois.
Schwarzer nearly gifted Atletico the opener as his poor punch landed at the feet of Diego Ribas, but the Brazilian delayed his shot and the Chelsea stopper got back to make a comfortable save.
Chelsea suffered another injury blow when Terry was forced off 18 minutes from time and his absence allowed Atletico to have more joy with balls into the box in the closing stages.
A low free-kick from Gabi nearly caught out Schwarzer as he scrambled across goal to make a low save to his right.
Atletico’s aerial onslaught then arrived as Garcia sent two headers sailing just over the bar, whilst Arda Turan also saw a headed effort sneak past the post.
Chelsea had a late chance to snatch a vital away goal when Torres was felled on the edge of the area by Miranda, but David Luiz sent the resulting free-kick over the bar.
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Published: April 23, 2014 04:00 AM