Atletico Madrid Secures Place in Final With Win

Champions LeagueJose Mourinho’s Chelsea team suffered the Champions League blues in a 3-1 loss to Atletico Madrid. The win for Atletico Madrid  pairs them in a derby final with their rivals Real Madrid.

The goalless first leg left the spot in the May 24th Lisbon final up for grabs as Mourinho’s current club had the chance to face off with his former club, Real Madrid. Real Madrid had ended the title defense of Bayern Munich just the night before. The last time that a team donning red and white stripes played Stamford Bridge was when Sunderland ended Mourinho’s 77-game unbeaten home league record.

Mourinho stated that he would stick to his same defensive methods despite received criticism for them recently. The fiercest of that criticism from Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers after Chelsea’s win at Anfield. For this game the Chelsea manager selected six defenders for his starting XI, three of them full-backs.

Chelsea was quick on defense and, following a fourth minute Atletico corner, Koke’s cross-shot sailed over Mark Schwarzer, struck the bar and bounced off Gary Cahill to land on the roof of the net.

Cesar Azpilicueta began on right wing with Eden Hazard providing support for Torres in the front, but Chelsea still struggled to challenge Atletico goalkeeper, Courtois. The Belgian goalkeeper, on his third season on loan from Chelsea to Atletico, was not flustered with a series of set-pieces, with Luiz coming closest with a bicycle kick that ended up going wide.

A tackle from Cahill stopped Costa before a mis-timed challenge saw the Chelsea defender booked. Terry scrambled to clear Koke’s resulting free-kick. Chelsea went up after Willian dodge two attempted tackles in the right corner and the ball broke loose for Azpilicueta to cross. Azpilicueta crossed to Torres who deflected the ball slightly off Mario Suarez to sneak it under the goalkeeper. It was Torres’ first goal in two months, though he did not celebrate against his former club.

Atletico strove to equalize and advance on their away goals, and managed it when Tiago’s pass was turned back into the net by Juanfran. It ran past Ashley Cole, Terry and Cahill and finally met by Lopez, but the shot looped into the net.

At the start of the second half Chelsea almost fell behind by another goal when a low cross from Koke caused some chaos with Schwarzer saving from Turan at his near post.

Chelsea came close to evening the score when Willian’s free kick was headed by Terry, but was saved by Courtois. Cole was taken out and replaced by Samuel Eto’o, he was put up front with Torres. Eto’o got involved in defense immediately and it resulted in a penalty. He mis-times his bid for a ball and ran over Costa and was booked for the foul. Costa was yellow carded for taking his time in placing the ball and chatting with Branislav Ivanovic before drilling the ball past Schwarzer for his eighth goal in eight Champions League matches.

With 30 minutes remaining, Chelsea was behind by two goals. Luiz headed to Willian, whose free-kick bounced off the post in a stroke of luck for Courtois who would not have saved it. Atletico continued to attack as Juanfran crossed to Turan, who earned a header that ricocheted off the crossbar and back to him, allowing him to sneak it into the net of the final goal of the outing.

Atletico has won a mere one out of nine previous matches away to English teams but this second success clinched a spot in the final for the Spanish team. It was Mourinho’s fourth consecutive loss in the semi-finals, now they must turn to their hopes for a Premier League title.

Carlos reports on the MLS for Soccer News Now as well as European teams and played college soccer in California where he still makes his home with his wife and two children.

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