This counter-attacking approach worked perfectly at Anfield on Sunday when Liverpool took the game to Chelsea but last night, aside from a ten minute period after Fernando Torres' 35minute opening goal, Chelsea had to make the running. When this involved bringing on a second striker early in the second period Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone said “We benefited greatly because it left us more space to control the game.”
Mourinho himself identified a save by Thibaut Coutois, who belongs to Chelsea, as the critical moment. The Belgian goalkeeper is on loan to Atletico from Chelsea and, until Uefa intervened, looked like being barred from playing in the match. Instead he played and made several outstanding saves, none more so than a one-handed stop from a John Terry header on the hour mark with the scores level. A minute later Samuel Eto'o conceded a penalty at the other end, Diego Costa converted it, and, with the Spanish team having two away goals in the bag, Chelsea needed to score two to go through. In the event the only other goal was for Atletico's Arda Turan as the visitors won 3-1 on the night and, after a goalless first leg, by the same score on aggregate.
"One minute in the second half decided everything,” said Mourinho. “A minute where the Atletico goalkeeper makes an impossible save to a John Terry header then instead of 2-1 for Chelsea the penalty that kills the game.
“After that there was only one team with morale high, knowing with half an hour left they had control. My team played with pride and honour but Atetico were very mature and intelligent in the way they controlled the game. They had the feeling that the game was in their hands we had feeling the game was lost.”
Asked if he was frustrated that Courtois belongs to Chelsea yet played such a key role for their opponents Mourinho said: “No. He is Atletico's goalkeeper. He plays for them and did his role.”
The last word went to Simeone, using one recently popularised by Nick Clegg's Spanish wife Miriam: “I want to congratulate the mothers of these players because they give them big cojones to play like they did today.”
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