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Nothing to separate Atlético and Chelsea

Club Atlético de Madrid 0-0 Chelsea FC
A tight first leg ended goalless, although both clubs will be missing key players for next week's Stamford Bridge return.

Nothing to separate Atlético and Chelsea
Nothing to separate Atlético and Chelsea ©UEFA.com

The UEFA Champions League semi-final between Club Atlético de Madrid and Chelsea FC remains delicately poised ahead of next Wednesday's return after a scoreless first leg in the Spanish capital. 

After a game of few clear-cut chances, Chelsea hold the edge in the tie but José Mourinho's side's battling display came at a cost, goalkeeper Petr Čech and defender John Terry suffering injuries. In addition, Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel picked up bookings that rule them out of the return leg although Atlético captain Gabi will also miss next Wednesday's return at Stamford Bridge through suspension.   

A tight meeting between the meanest defences in the Spanish Liga and English Premier League had been anticipated and so it proved, with fans of both teams soaking up an absorbing, tactical opening to an at times suffocating encounter. Having missed the win against FC Barcelona in the quarter-final second leg, Atlético's Diego Costa looked eager to return to the UEFA Champions League stage, entertaining with some neat tricks before teeing up Diego to fire the game's first chance wide.

Boasting 17 wins in their last 18 home European games, the hosts probed carefully for an opening and during one foray forward the first half's most notable moment arrived. Leaping to punch Koke's dangerously whipped corner over the crossbar, Chelsea goalkeeper Čech – who missed Saturday's 2-1 defeat at home to Sunderland AFC through illness – immediately knew he was in trouble after landing awkwardly.

His replacement, Mark Schwarzer, had lost to Atlético in Fulham FC's 2010 UEFA Europa League final defeat and was soon busy, diving to his left to guide Mario Suárez's drive from distance past the upright.

With the Atlético rearguard proving as rigid as Chelsea's after the restart, glimpses of goals remained brief, Atlético goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois – on loan from Chelsea – gathering Lampard's long-range effort. At the other end Diego sent an effort wide before the alert Schwarzer dived low to his right to turn behind Gabi's free-kick.

Diego Simeone's side surpassed their previous highest total for a season with their 109th goal of 2013/14 against Elche CF at the weekend, but they were unable to find a breakthrough here. "I have difficulty seeing a tie of this magnitude being decided in the first leg," Mourinho had said and, with Raúl García and then substitute Arda Turan heading wide for Atlético in the final stages, his prediction proved accurate.