Sport

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Mourinho's Chelsea park the bus to clinch goalless draw but injury concerns mount

Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa (L) challenges Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta during their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match at Vicente Calderon stadium
Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa (L) challenges Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta during their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match at Vicente Calderon stadium
Chelsea's goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer (C) makes a save during their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match against Atletico Madrid at Vicente Calderon stadium
Atletico Madrid's Diego Godin (L) challenges Chelsea's Willian (R) during their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match at Vicente Calderon stadium
Atletico Madrid's coach Diego Simeone reacts during his team's Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match against Chelsea at Vicente Celderon Stadium
Chelsea's goalkeeper Petr Cech (top) collides with Atletico Madrid's Raul Garcia during their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match at the Vicente Calderon stadium
Chelsea's goalkeeper Petr Cech(C) receives treatment during their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match against Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon stadium
Atletico Madrid and Chelsea players line up before the UEFA Champions League, Semi Final, First Leg at the Vincente Calderon Stadium
Chelsea's goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer reaches for the ball as it goes wide of the post during the Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match against Atletico Madrid at Vicente Calderon stadium
Atletico Madrid supporters cheer before their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match against Chelsea at the Vicente Calderon stadium
Chelsea fans cheer on their side in the stands during the UEFA Champions League, Semi Final, First Leg at the Vincente Calderon Stadium
Chelsea's goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer makes a save in front of his team mate John Terry (R) and Atletico Madrid's Raul Garcia (C) during their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match at Vicente Calderon stadium
Atletico Madrid's Escudero Raul Garcia (left) and Chelsea's Ashley Cole (right) battle for the ball during the UEFA Champions League, Semi Final, First Leg at the Vincente Calderon Stadium
Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois takes a catch during the UEFA Champions League, Semi Final, First Leg at the Vincente Calderon Stadium
A Chelsea supporter poses with street performers wearing jerseys of the Chelsea and Atletico Madrid
Chelsea's Frank Lampard (L) kicks the ball ahead of Atletico Madrid's Koke during their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match at Vicente Calderon stadium
Chelsea's coach Jose Mourinho (L) holds a ball as Atletico Madrid's Raul Garcia (R) looks on during their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match at Vicente Calderon stadium
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho (centre) with assistants Steve Holland and Rui Faria (right) in the dugout during the UEFA Champions League, Semi Final, First Leg at the Vincente Calderon Stadium
Atletico Madrid supporters cheer before their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match against Chelsea at the Vicente Calderon stadium
Atletico Madrid's Raul Garcia and Chelsea's Frank Lampard (L) fight for the ball during their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match at Vicente Calderon stadium
Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa and Chelsea's Gary Cahill (L) fight for the ball during their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match at Vicente Calderon stadium
Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa (R) challenges Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta during their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match at Vicente Celderon Stadium
Chelsea's goalkeeper Petr Cech leaves the pitch after he collided with Atletico Madrid's Raul Garcia (unseen) during their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match at Vicente Calderon stadium
Chelsea's Fernando Torres (right) and Atletico Madrid's Francisco Juanfran (left) battle for the ball during the UEFA Champions League, Semi Final, First Leg at the Vincente Calderon Stadium
Chelsea team group (top row left to right) Jon Obi Mikel, David Luiz, Petr Cech, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Fernando Torres. (bottom row left to right) Cesar Azpilicueta, Willian, Ashley Cole and Ramires during the UEFA Champions League, Semi Final, First Leg at the Vincente Calderon Stadium

Matt McGeehan

Jose Mourinho was unapologetically grumpy on the eve of the Champions League semi-final first leg at Atletico Madrid and his team were unwaveringly stubborn in a goalless draw at the Vicente Calderon Stadium.

Chelsea lost 2-1 to Sunderland in the Premier League last Saturday to leave Mourinho in a sour mood and the European Cup they won in 2012 their most likely trophy chance this term.

Mourinho, appearing in the semi-finals for a fifth successive season, was returning to the city which was his home for three years while Real boss as he seeks a third European Cup win on May 24 in Lisbon after successes with Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010.

The Portuguese opted for a defensive approach against Atletico, who had never lost to English visitors in nine previous matches and were the last unbeaten team in the competition.

Los Rojiblancos, in the last four for the first time in 40 years, appeared undeterred by the pedigree of Chelsea and Mourinho in the competition, but encountered a black wall of shirts.

Striker Fernando Torres, starting against his former club, cut an isolated figure as the visitors packed men behind the ball, with Gary Cahill marshalling dangerman Diego Costa superbly.

Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, playing against his parent club, was a spectator for much of the contest, which saw Chelsea's long-time number one Petr Cech go off injured, clutching his shoulder after a heavy fall, inside the opening 20 minutes.

Captain John Terry also went off 18 minutes from time, forcing a defensive reshuffle, but still the visitors held firm to frustrate Atletico.

Chelsea are likely to be a different proposition at Stamford Bridge next Wednesday, but they could be without three stalwarts in Cech, Terry and Frank Lampard, who will serve a suspension following a second-half booking.

Like Lampard, who might have been shown a second yellow card for handball, John Obi Mikel will be banned for the second leg after being booked as Chelsea's approach came at a cost.

The Blues' starting XI had an impotent look with Samuel Eto'o (knee) and Eden Hazard (calf) absent, but instead of fielding Andre Schurrle as a 'false nine' - as he did at Paris St Germain - Mourinho opted for Torres.

The much-maligned Spain striker was given a warm reception on his first return to the Vicente Calderon since his July 2007 move to Liverpool, something which was not afforded for Mourinho, who was roundly booed and abused in a partisan atmosphere.

Ashley Cole, who had played just 13 minutes for the Blues since January, slotted in seamlessly after being included in place of the suspended Branislav Ivanovic, with Cesar Azpilicueta switched to right-back.

Costa - a rumoured summer target for Mourinho - and Terry acquainted themselves in one of a number of testy opening exchanges before Cech dealt with an inswinging corner.

As he punched the ball over from underneath his own crossbar, David Luiz pushed Raul Garcia into the Chelsea goalkeeper, who hit the ground with a thud.

The home fans showed little sympathy, chanting Courtois' name as Cech received treatment before Mark Schwarzer came on for his second Champions League appearance.

Atletico faced a defensive dam and Mario Suarez tried his luck from 25 yards, firing narrowly wide of Schwarzer's goal.

Azpilicueta threw himself towards Costa to block and Diego shot straight at Schwarzer as the half ended goalless.

Chelsea had few chances of note in the first period and Courtois was called upon only once, to claim a Lampard corner.

Lampard's shot was easily held by the Belgium goalkeeper early in the second half and then Courtois saved from Torres.

Defensive duties resumed for Chelsea, with Cole and Luiz making key defensive headers and Diego shooting wide.

Terry was forced off after a couple of meaty challenges saw him clutching his ankle - though again, contact with Luiz may have been to blame. The Brazilian dropped into defence as Terry was replaced by Schurrle, who took Ramires' berth wide on the right.

Atletico tried to exploit the defensive reshuffle and a mazy Felipe Luis run almost led to an opening for Garcia, but Chelsea frantically cleared.

As the hosts searched for an opening the ball hit Lampard's arm, resulting in a melee with the Atletico players calling for the midfielder's dismissal.

Mikel and Gabi were booked in the aftermath, earning suspensions for both players, before Schwarzer turned Gabi's resulting free-kick round the post.

Substitute Arda Turan headed narrowly wide at the back post and Garcia also missed the target from a similar position.

Chelsea had a chance when Torres was felled by Suarez two minutes from time, but Luiz blasted the free-kick off target.

Atletico threw on David Villa to add to their forward options, but still Chelsea were resolute as Costa failed to test Schwarzer with a header in the second of five minutes of added time.

Turan fired well wide as Atletico finished frustrated and Chelsea departed to whistles from the home support; the away fans, meanwhile, lauded Mourinho and clung to the prospect of a repeat of two years ago.

Online Editors

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