Mourinho Rues Courtois’s Moment of Brilliance as Chelsea Exits Europe

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Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho admitted an “impossible” save by the club’s loanee goalkeeper Thibault Courtois, had been critical as his team lost out of the Champions League to a fired-up Atletico Madrid in last night’s semi-final.

The La Liga leaders march on to Lisbon later this month, where they will confront city rivals Real Madrid, at the expense of Mourinho’s Chelsea.

Atletico, who came into Wednesday’s game on the back of a goalless draw at the Vicente Calderon, had leveled the tie 1-1 on aggregate when Courtois made a diving save from captain John Terry’s header in the 53rd minute.

Thibault Courtois Saves the Ball Off a Fernando Torres Challenge.
Thibault Courtois Saves the Ball Off a Fernando Torres Challenge.

The 21-year-old Belgian’s involvement against his parent club had been the subject of some controversy, with the terms of his loan to Atletico demanding payment of around £2.5m for every of such appearance. Atletico had claimed they could not afford such heavy payment before Uefa ruled the aggreement validates the competition’s integrity, while stressing it is “unenforceable”.

The goalkeeper played both legs and denied Terry and David Luiz just as the ‘Blues’ looked for a way back into the tie at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea needed to score a vital goal to keep sight at the Estadion da Luz but it was the ‘Los Roji Blancos’ who struck again, through Diego Costa’s spot kick and Arfa Turan’s third to seal a 3-1 aggregate win.

“The difference was one moment in the second half, where the Atlético goalkeeper makes an impossible save from John Terry’s header, an amazing save, and instead of 2-1 to Chelsea a few minutes later [we concede] a penalty,” the Portuguese boss told The Guardian.

“After that, there was only one team on the pitch. My team played with pride, honour and professionalism, but we had immediately the feeling the game was lost.

“From that moment the game was controlled by Atlético in a very mature way. They had complete control. They had the feeling the game was in their hands, and after that they were very solid, very mature, a real team. I knew that before, and I congratulate them now.” Asked specifically about the irony of Courtois being a Chelsea player, with the youngster’s future next season still unresolved and Atlético keen to retain him for a further 12 months, the manager added: “No, he’s the Atlético goalkeeper, and he did his job.”

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