Atletico Madrid will contest the Champions League final after a 3-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Goals from Adrian, Diego Costa and Arda Turan ensured May 24 will see an all-Madrid tie after Real Madrid beat Bayern Munich on Tuesday. The game will be played in Lisbon and on this evidence – and what we have seen from Atleti all season – Diego Simeone’s men could spoil Los Blancos’ quest for La Decima.
Fernando Torres opened the scoring after Willian and Cesar Azpilicueta combined, the striker’s well-hit effort beating Thibaut Courtois after taking a deflection on the way past.
The former Atletico striker barely celebrated and instead pointed to the sky, then buried his face in his hands. His goal meant the game couldn’t go to extra-time but goals from Adrian, Costa and Arda gave Atletico a commanding victory.
Adrian restored parity only minutes before half-time when Chelsea failed to clear a cross into the box, the ball eventually finding the surprise selection, who converted from close range.
Costa added a second from 12 yards after he was brought down by Samuel Eto’o and despite being booked before he took the kick for the time he took in digging out the spot, the Spain international made no mistake.
Arda netted a bizarre but impressive third, first meeting a cross at the far post with a powerful header and then after the attempt came back off the crossbar, calmly converting what was not an easy chance.
Both teams sprung a surprise with their line-ups. Chelsea named six defenders – Azpilicueta and David Luis starting in midfield – while Atletico went with Adrian, rather than David Villa or Raul Garcia.
An early period of Atletico pressure produced a couple of corners and a nervy moment for Mark Schwarzer, when Koke’s cross-shot struck the bar, but the opening stages were a scrappy affair. Neither side wanted to overcommit and both hit long and hopeless balls forward to the lone striker on more than one occasion.
But it was a physical encounter with pressing and aggressive defending from both sides. Goalmouth incident was rare but the match was highly watchable, the tension and frenetic defending creating a palpable edge each time an attack threatened to break out.
A rare attack brought the opening goal, Willian escaping a few Atletico defenders by the corner flag and Azpilicueta firing the ball to the edge of the penalty area. Torres met it and Courtois was beaten as the shot came off a defender.
Adrian levelled before the break after Chelsea’s defence was flummoxed by a ball into the box and Atletico began the second-half in similar fashion. A low cross was flashed across the Chelsea box and Arda Turan drew a smart save from Schwarzer.
Courtois produced an even better stop to keep out John Terry’s header as Chelsea tried to get back in the tie. Jose Mourinho withdrew Ashley Cole for Eto’o and sent Azpi to left-back, but the defender almost gave away a penalty after tangling with Arda.
Instead it was Eto’o who gave away a penalty, challenging Costa for a dropping ball just inside the area and fouling his fellow striker. Costa’s record on penalties is patchy this season but the Brazil-born forward converted when it mattered most.
Chelsea nearly drew level on the night minutes later when a Luiz header thumped the post and somehow stayed out. That incident aside, Atletico largely managed the game well, keeping possession and added to their lead through Arda to truly kill the game.
A Filipe Luis dart into the box almost produced a fourth goal while at the other end, Atletico’s lead was never really threatened. Strong goalkeeping from Courtois and resolute defending meant any Chelsea attacks were snuffed out before causing real danger. Terry went closest, curling an effort over the bar after Courtois saved from Eden Hazard.
Atleti will now face Madrid in the first-ever European Cup final to be contested between two teams from the same city and Atletico’s second-even European Cup final, 40 years after their first.
Chelsea 1-3 Atletico Madrid
Torres 36 (C), Adrian 44, Costa pen 60, Arda 72 (AM)
Chelsea: Schwarzer; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole (Eto’o 54); Azpilicueta, Ramires, David Luiz, Hazard, Willian (Schurrle 76); Torres (Ba 67)
Atletico: Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Filipe Luis; Koke, Mario Suarez, Tiago, Arda (Rodriguez 84); Adrian (Garcia 66), Diego Costa (Sosa 76)