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Ultra-defensive Chelsea shut up shop against Atleti but see injuries mount

The Blues came away from the Vincente Calderon with a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tonight.

Atletico Madrid's Gabi (right) and Filipe Luis battle for the ball with Chelsea's Willian.
Atletico Madrid's Gabi (right) and Filipe Luis battle for the ball with Chelsea's Willian.
Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

ATLETICO MADRID AND Chelsea will have it all to play for when they meet in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final in London next Wednesday after a 0-0 draw in the first leg at the Vicente Calderon.

Chances were far and few between as Chelsea set up to stifle the hosts with two late headers from Raul Garcia the closest Atletico came to breaking the deadlock.

The English side did suffer two significant injuries, however, as both goalkeeper Petr Cech and captain John Terry had to be replaced either side of half-time putting their participation for the second leg in doubt.

Chelsea’s Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel and Atletico captain Gabi will definitely miss the game at Stamford Bridge as they all got yellow cards that will lead to a suspension.

Fernando Torres started on his first game back at the Calderon as a visiting player since leaving to join Liverpool in 2007, but he cut an isolated figure as Chelsea were happy to stick 10 men behind the ball.

The visitors suffered a big blow after just 17 minutes, though, when Garcia upended Cech in his attempt to reach an Atletico corner from the left and the Czech goalkeeper was unable to continue.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Semi Final - First Leg - Atletico Madrid v Chelsea - Vincente Calderon Stadium Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Veteran Australian ‘keeper Mark Schwarzer was forced into action to replace Cech, becoming the oldest player to appear in the knockout stages of the Champions League in doing so at the age of 41.

Mario Suarez shot just wide and Diego Costa had an effort brilliantly blocked by Cesar Azpilicueta as Atletico began to build up some semblance of pressure towards the end of the half.

However, Diego Ribas’ tame low effort that was easily gathered by Schwarzer was their only effort on target before the break.

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Chelsea finally registered a shot on target three minutes after the restart when Lampard’s volley was well held by Courtois.

Schwarzer then nearly gifted Atletico the opener as his poor punch landed at the feet of the Diego, but the Brazilian delayed his shot and the Chelsea stopper got back to make a comfortable save.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Semi Final - First Leg - Atletico Madrid v Chelsea - Vincente Calderon Stadium Chelsea's John Terry limps off the pitch after being substituted due to injury. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

 

Diego went close again moments later with a dipping volley that flew just wide before he was replaced by Arda Turan.

Chelsea suffered another injury blow when Terry was forced off 18 minutes from time and his absence allowed Atletico to have more joy with balls into the box in the closing stages.

A low free-kick from Gabi nearly caught out Schwarzer as he scrambled across goal to make a low save to his right.

Atletico’s aerial onslaught then arrived as Garcia sent two headers sailing just over the bar, whilst Turan also saw a headed effort sneak past the post.

Chelsea had a late chance to snatch a vital away goal when Torres was felled on the edge of the area by Miranda, but David Luiz sent the resulting free-kick over the bar.

- © AFP, 2014

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