All was looking good for the Blues to make our third Champions League final when Fernando Torres swept us ahead with 10 minutes to go to half-time on Wednesday night, but the advantage was let slip just before the interval when the Spanish League leaders netted, swinging the tie back in their favour.
Two second-half goals from Atletico made another of those famous Chelsea fight-backs in this competition very unlikely, and although there were chances at either end and woodwork was struck, the Blues went out 3-1 on aggregate.
Jose Mourinho had plenty of complements for the way the Spaniards played, and more than their first-half equaliser, it was a rapid burst of action after the interval that the Chelsea manager said decided such a tight contest.
‘The difference was one minute in the second half,’ Mourinho lamented, ‘when the Atletico keeper made an amazing save from John Terry’s header and instead of 2-1 for Chelsea, a few seconds later there was a penalty, and it was a penalty, and it was 2-1 to Atletico.
‘In minute 61, two actions decided the game and after that there was only one team on the pitch. My team played with pride, honour and professionalism, but Atletico were very mature and intelligent in the way they controlled the game and they had complete control.’
Mourinho said that both teams were very equal in the way they approached the first half…
‘We had a slight advantage in the way we controlled the game and the 1-1 left everything open for the second half, and that started the same way, but these matches are normally decide by details and that minute had two details.
‘After that there was one team with confidence and at the top of their game. We had the feeling that the game was lost and they had the feeling that the game was in their hands, and after they were very solid. I knew before that Atletico were a real team and I congratulate them.
‘I said yesterday my players were ready and they wanted to be ready because they wanted to play, they wanted to help, because they know the situation where we were so close to the final but at the same time with so many problems. So everyone of my players tried the maximum and Eto’o was here almost without a training session, and Oscar was on the bench and he was injured.
‘We had so many problems but the players gave everything and I am happy with them. They can go home sad but with a clean face. They did their work, they lost the game but they lost against a very good team.’
He was asked if with two German teams making the final last year, and two Spanish ones this time, he thinks English football will consider changing the schedule for clubs in this country who make the latter stages of the Champions League…
‘No, I don’t think so,’ he replied, ‘Unless somebody can do better than I tried to do in the season because I was speaking about this for a long, long time. I did that in Italy and in the season before I left, they changed the rules. I did that in Spain and when I left, they did. In England I speak and speak and maybe one day it happens.’
Atletico boss Diego Simeone highlighted his side’s composure in the face of Chelsea taking the lead, and then the fact Chelsea had to change our shape when later chasing the game as important factors in their victory on the night…
‘The reaction to Chelsea’s goal was crucial considering we were playing world-class opponents in their stadium,’ said the Argentinian, ‘and in the second half we started very well and when we scored and had a 2-1 lead, we were basically the owners of the game.
‘When Chelsea had the necessity to score again and played Torres, Eto’o and Hazard in a high line, that made us able to have five midfielders and it left more spaces for us to control the game.’