In the cracker of a game played Wednesday night on Chelsea FC’s home turf at Stamford Bridge, London, the Spanish visitors handed an emphatic defeat to the hosts, despite trailing by a goal until one minute from half-time. The determined Atletico Madrid brought out a super performance against Jose Mourinho’s side to enter their maiden European Champion Clubs’ final in 40 years. They will now meet the familiar city-mates Real Madrid in the ultimate showdown at Lisbon’s Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica on Saturday 24 May 2014. Atletico are table toppers this season in the Spanish Primera Division and Real will have to put up their best show to beat their highly talented town foes. But Atletico stars also know that in Lisbon’s famed international stadium; almost the entire crowd will be rooting for their world-famous Portuguese super star Cristiano Ronaldo. In the southern European nations of Spain and Portugal, club and player loyalties supersede everything, including national colors. But let us return to yesterday’s enthralling action for now.
The 42000-capacity Stamford Bridge was brimming mostly with Chelsea fans, as the match began on Wednesday night. In the 4th minute, Chelsea conceded a corner, which was taken by Koke. Cesar Azpilicueta cleared Koke’s nice cross by heading it away but the ball came back to Koke, who struck it back in the penalty area. Chelsea keeper Mark Schwarzer was taken by surprise but luckily for him Koke’s shot only hit the woodwork. In the ensuing melee, the ball was cleared away by Gary Cahill and another corner accrued. Koke took the corner but it was cleared once again to safety. In the 16th and 19th minutes, Diego Costa made two attempts on the Chelsea goal, the first of which was saved by Ashley Cole but the second was more dangerous as Costa broke free inside the penalty area from the left and shot across the goal. It was a very near thing for Chelsea but Gary Cahill had the presence of mind to affect a superb sliding block, which resulted into the third corner for Atletico. However, Koke’s short corner, which was brought to the edge of the box found David Luiz, who sent it away. The home team mounted a challenge in the meantime as David Luiz’s freekick found Ramires for a shot in the goal. However, Atletico’s Miranda cleared the ball. In the 23rd minute, a long throw from Chelsea came to the penalty area and Luiz attempted an acrobatic overhead kick, which missed the target narrowly.
Both teams produced enterprising display for the better part of the first half with attacks and counterattacks. In the 36th minute, Azpilicueta took the ball from team-mate, Willian near the right corner and sent it to Fernando Torres. Torres lost no time and made a first-time strike that landed in the bottom corner, taking Atletico goalkeeper by complete surprise. Fans at Stamford Bridge went into frenzy, as the host established a 1-0 lead. 8 minutes later, Atletico invaded the Chelsea area as captain Tiago attempted a pass to Juanfran, who had slipped from his marked position. But Juanfran still managed to cut the ball across the goal, where Adrian Lopez was ready for an accurate shot into the goal. The equalizer was a crucial away goal for Diego Simeone’s team and Chelsea suddenly came under pressure. In the 53rd minute, Chelsea got a great chance as a pass from Willian found John Terry in good position. But Terry’s header to the goal was brilliantly saved by Atletico keeper. In the 58th minute, a corner from Koke came close to Diego Costa, who was in great position to shoot inwards. At this point Costa was brought down by Samuel Eto and referee promptly pointed to the penalty spot. Costa’s spot kick had Mark Schwarzer moving the wrong way, as the ball harmlessly sailed to the net from the left side. With this 60th minute goal, Atletico’s 2-1 lead nearly sealed their place in the final since Chelsea needed to score 2 goals from now onwards. In the 72nd minute, Atletico consolidate further, when Juanfran held on to a long pass and crossed it into the penalty area. Arda Turan was precisely on the right spot to head the ball in. His header, however, rebounded after striking the post and Turan didn’t miss the chance for the second time. With a 3-1 lead and 18 minutes left, the task for Chelsea became monumental, especially because some of their star players were absent. Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel were serving suspension and Mourinho had included three full-backs as replacements. No further goals were scored by either side in the time remaining and Atletico sailed into the final.
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