Atletico Madrid and Chelsea played to a scoreless draw in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final Tuesday evening at the Estadio Vicente Calderon.
The result means Chelsea will be slight favourites to advance to the final with the second leg set for next Wednesday at Stamford Bridge, but manager Jose Mourinho could have selection problems after losing two key players to injury during the match.
In the first half, goalkeeper Petr Cech left the match following a collision in the Blues' goalmouth. Then, in the second half, captain John Terry limped off after being stepped on by teammate David Luiz.
"Petr Cech's season is over," Mourinho told UEFA.com. "He won't play again this season, but I hope he can at least celebrate something with us. For John, we will have to reach the final for him to play again."
Although Chelsea will have the advantage of playing at home in the second leg, Atletico will be buoyed by an outstanding away record this season in the Champions League. On their way to the semi-final, Diego Simeone's side have yet to lose on their travels, beating AC Milan and Porto and drawing with Barcelona.
"Both teams tried to play in the way they thought best. They defended well. We tried wide, we tried inside, but couldn't get through," Simeone told UEFA.com. "The result leaves the tie open. Now to see what happens next week. We're playing for something great."
In addition to their European campaigns, both teams also remain alive in their domestic title races. Atletico currently sit four points clear atop La Liga and are in fine position to claim a first league title since 1996.
Chelsea, currently second in the Premier League, trail leaders Liverpool by five points but will have a chance to close the gap when they visit the Reds on Sunday.
Mourinho, however, hinted that with the Champions League semi-final second leg looming, he could field a weakened side at Anfield.
"I know what I would do, but I'm not the club. I have to speak with the club," Mourinho said, per the Daily Mirror. "I would play with the players that are not going to play Wednesday."
Atletico dominated possession early but generated few chances in the opening minutes. The hosts created a dangerous moment in the 15th minute, Koke whipping in a corner from the left that Cech scrambled to tip over the bar.
After making the save, though, Cech landed awkwardly following a collision with Atletico's Raul Garcia. The Chelsea goalkeeper remained on the ground for several moments and left the pitch in the 18th minute, replaced by Mark Schwarzer.
Chelsea maintained a resolute defensive posture, looking to hit Atletico on the counter when possible. The strategy nearly paid off in the 28th minute after Ramires led a break into Atletico's half, but the midfielder flashed a cross-shot too far for Fernando Torres.
Two minutes later at the other end, Koke picked out Garcia in the box with a swinging cross from the left, but Garcia's header flew off target. In the 34th minute, Mario Suarez curled a shot just wide of the post from distance.
Atletico registered the match's first shot on target in first-half stoppage time, Schwarzer saving Diego's low effort to ensure the teams went into half-time level at 0-0.
Chelsea's first shot on target arrived early in the second half, Frank Lampard volleying at Thibaut Courtois from distance in the 48th minute. Atletico then had a half-chance in the 55th minute as Schwarzer's attempted clearance fell to Diego, who cut inside before shooting low straight back at the Chelsea stopper.
Fernando Torres curled a shot on target for Chelsea in the 59th minute, but his effort flew straight at Courtois. One minute later, Diego hit a dipping shot wide of the post, moments before being substituted in favour of Arda Turan.
Chelsea received a second dose of injury-related bad news in the 72nd minute, when Terry limped off after being stepped on by Luiz. Andre Schurrle replaced Terry one minute later.
Atletico kept up the search for a breakthrough goal, meanwhile, Gabi curling a free-kick on target, which Schwarzer saved low to his right in the 76th minute. Two minutes later, Garcia headed weakly over the bar from Juanfran's cross on the right.
As the final whistle drew nearer, the hosts sustained their best spell of the match. Turan headed just off target at the far post in the 79th minute and Garcia sent a looping header over the bar five minutes later.
Luiz curled a free-kick off target in the 90th minute as Chelsea mounted a rare attack. In stoppage time, Costa had a chance to win it, but he headed straight at Schwarzer from Gabi's cross.
With that the final chance of the match passed, and the tie headed back to London for what figures to be an equally tight second leg.
"I wanted to win 5-0 and be in the final, but knew that would be very difficult," Mourinho told UEFA.com. "It is not easy leave this ground without losing and come out with a draw. It is not a great result, but a result that lets us play our final at Stamford Bridge."
|Atletico Madrid Player Ratings|
|Arda Turan (for Diego, 60')||N/A||7|
|Jose Sosa (for Suarez, 80')||N/A||6|
|David Villa (for Garcia, 86')||N/A||6|
|Chelsea Player Ratings|
|John Obi Mikel||7||7|
|Mark Schwarzer (for Cech, 18')||7||8|
|Andre Schurrle (for Terry, 73')||N/A||6|
|Demba Ba (for Willian, 90')||N/A||6|
Atletico Madrid return to La Liga with a match at Valencia on Sunday.
Chelsea return to the Premier League to play a potential title decider at Liverpool on Sunday.
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