Champions League: Atlético 0 – 0 Chelsea
Semifinal still wide open after first leg
The first leg of the Champions League finished as it began, without any goals on the scoreboard.
Atlético Madrid and Chelsea faced each other on Tuesday night, but the Blues showed little intent to play football as they parked the bus for 90 minutes.
José Mourinho was well aware of Atleti’s offensive prowess at home and fielded a defensive line-up with Fernando Torres and Willian as the only offensive minded players. Often the Londoners had 9 or 10 players behind the ball, as they retreated on their own half, only going forward when winning a corner after hoofing the ball to El Niño.
Atlético Madrid lacked finesse to break down the Chelsea defence and failed to score for the first time in this year’s Champions League campaign. The Rojiblancos swung in a great number of crosses, but all were returned by Cahill, Terry and David Luiz who together formed an impenetrable wall.
The only opportunity in the first half was for Mario Suárez, whose curling shot was tipped wide by Mark Schwarzer. The 41-year old had come on to replace Petr Cech, who had to come off earlier when landing awkwardly after saving what seemed like an attempt on goal by Koke from a corner kick. The Czech goalkeeper has been diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder.
At the start of the second half Frank Lampard and later Fernando Torres both shot straight at Thibaut Courtois from distance, but Chelsea quickly returned to their own end. Atlético had two opportunities through Diego Ribas, but both were fired wide before the Brazilian was replaced by Arda Turan.
Perhaps Atleti’s biggest chance came from a set piece, when Gabi’s low drive took a deflection. Schwarzer, however, reacted well and pushed the ball wide. The captain, like Frank Lampard and Obi Mikel, picked up a booking in the second half and will be suspended for the return leg.
There were more opportunities for Atleti, but Raúl García couldn’t direct his header towards goal, while Diego Costa’s goalbound header hit the back of Cahill’s head. Another header by Costa, late in the game, lacked the power and accuracy to surprise Mark Schwarzer.
Don’t let the summary fool you, this was a game of few real chances. Atlético will feel they deserved more, but as Gabi said afterwards, the semifinal is still wide open. The return leg will be played next Wednesday at 20.45 CET.
|UEFA Champions League|
|22 April 2014|
|Raúl García (86')|