Chelsea 1-3 Atlético Madrid (agg 1-3) | Champions League SF match report

Once again there was the sight of a manager running along the touchline at Stamford Bridge, screaming to the skies and letting out all the euphoria. Except this time José Mourinho was back in the dugout, hands pushed into his pockets, absorbing the fact there will be no place for his team at Estadio da Luz in Lisbon on 24 May.

Chelsea chose a bad night to lose their streak of resilience and Atlético were ruthless in the way they responded to Fernando Torres, their old favourite, opening the scoring. Chelsea have played with so much defensive expertise lately, but ultimately it finished as the heaviest defeat Mourinho has suffered on this ground.

These were the moments when Atlético demonstrated why they are so close to breaking up the dominance of Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga. Adrián's equaliser changed the complexion of the game just before half-time and Atlético excelled in the second half. Diego Costa's penalty put Spain's champions-in-waiting in command and when Arda Turan followed in his own header to make it 3-1, Diego Simeone could be seen on his victory run.

Simeone's team had shown great powers of recovery but Mourinho will be aggrieved by the way Chelsea abandoned the qualities that have made them such obdurate opponents. It leaves him staring at the strong possibility that his first season back at the club will end without a trophy. There is clearly work to be done because, amid all the analysis of his tactics, it is worth remembering he has opted for caution only because he knows the opposition are often more refined. Atlético confirmed that by running away with the game after the interval.

Forty years since their last final, the team from Estadio Vicente Calderon might not have the gravitas of Barcelona or Real Madrid but two more wins in La Liga will confirm them as the best side in Spain. They did not always show it over the two legs, but their reaction to going behind showed, in Mourinho's words, that they are "solid, very mature, a real team". Simeone put it another way: "I would like to congratulate the mothers of these players because they have big cojones."

Costa reminded everyone why Mourinho likes the idea of bringing him to Stamford Bridge next season, and Thibaut Courtois, on loan from Chelsea, confirmed he will be a worthy successor to Petr Cech. This cannot have been an easy evening for Courtois, given all the blurring of lines, but he made some splendid saves at key moments of the game.

Chelsea had started the match with César Azpilicueta on the right of midfield and David Luiz operating just in front of defence. Their tactics, with six recognised defenders on the pitch at the same time, were predominantly based around stifling the opposition. Yet they did not neglect the fact they needed to get behind the opposition defence and their goal was classy in its creation.

Branislav Ivanovic started the move on the right but it was Willian's improvisational brilliance that really created the danger. His turn, close to the corner flag, took him away from two defenders. Azpilicueta took possession and picked out Torres for a low right-footed shot that beat Courtois after a slight deflection off Mario Suárez.

Torres celebrated the goal like a form of apology, with his palms spread as if asking for forgiveness from his former club. Yet he took the chance with the kind of clinical finish that was a throwback to his good old days in Atlético's colours, and Chelsea are usually so accomplished at defending the lead that it was unusual to see the carelessness that followed.

Ashley Cole will wince when he sees the replays of the equaliser because he made a fatal mistake in assuming John Terry was going to clear Juanfran's cutback. Terry could not adjust his feet quickly enough. Cole had switched off for a split-second and Adrián's shot was driven into the ground, bouncing off the turf to loop in.

Mourinho's first response to the equaliser came after 53 minutes when he removed Cole to bring on Eto'o. This was the signal that Chelsea would now have to start playing with greater adventure. The problem was two-fold. First, it meant leaving more space at the back for their opponents to exploit. Secondly, Chelsea's players continued to contribute to the team's downfall.

Eto'o had been on the pitch only six minutes when he and Costa went for the same ball from an Atlético corner. The challenge was clumsy in the extreme and it was a straightforward decision for the Italian referee, Nicola Rizzoli, to make. Costa was shown a yellow card because of the amount of time he took with the penalty, but he eventually put the ball past Mark Schwarzer as though immune to nerves.

A minute earlier, Courtois had kept out Terry's header with a save that Mourinho described as "impossible". Shortly after Costa's penalty, David Luiz's header came back off the post and Courtois pawed the ball away. Yet Atlético could also reflect on hitting the woodwork through Koke, the game's outstanding player, early in the match and when they did it again, after 71 minutes, Turan's header came back to him off the crossbar and he confirmed an all-Madrid final from the rebound.


Daniel Taylor at Stamford Bridge

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