Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was left to rue the performance of the club’s own goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, after their Champions League semi-final elimination by Atletico Madrid.
Belgian international Courtois, 21, has been on loan at Atletico from Chelsea since 2011 and he produced a save in Wednesday’s second leg at Stamford Bridge that Mourinho identified as the key moment.
With Atletico ahead on away goals after Adrian Lopez had cancelled out Fernando Torres’ 36th-minute opener for Chelsea, Courtois plunged to his left to block a header from home skipper John Terry.
Moments later Diego Costa put Atletico 2-1 up from the penalty spot after he had been fouled by Samuel Eto’o and a late Arda Turan effort completed a 3-1 victory that set up a showdown with city rivals Real Madrid in the final in Lisbon on May 24.
“The difference was one minute in the second half, where the Atletico goalkeeper makes an impossible save from John Terry’s header,” said Mourinho.
“Instead of 2-1 for Chelsea, a few seconds later, there is a penalty, which I’m happy people tell me was a penalty, and they scored the 2-1.
“That minute was crucial. After that, they had complete control and we had the feeling the game was lost.
“They had the feeling the game was in their hands and after that they were very solid, very mature, a real team. I knew before they were a real team, and I congratulate them.”
Courtois was making his first appearance at Stamford Bridge, but Mourinho said he was not frustrated by the knowledge that Chelsea had effectively been denied by one of their own players.
“No, no, no,” he said. “He’s the Atletico goalkeeper, he plays for Atletico, and he did his job.”
Atletico coach Diego Simeone, meanwhile, was evasive when asked if he would like to keep Courtois at the Vicente Calderon for a fourth season.
“I’m just experiencing this moment, trying to relish this moment,” he said. “I’m sure in the future the directors will decide what’s best for this young lad and whether he will stay at the club or not.”
Veteran Chelsea goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who at 41 is almost twice the age of the 21-year-old Courtois, said: “I thought he was outstanding.
“He had a great game . If we’d been a bit lucky and he’d been a bit unlucky we could have got back in the game and there could have been a few more nervy moments towards the end for them. It wasn’t the case.”
Chelsea’s first-choice keeper Petr Cech missed Wednesday’s match after injuring his shoulder in the first leg last week in Madrid and would face stiff competition from Courtois should he return.
“It’s a very, very tough decision and I am glad I am not the one making it,” Schwarzer said. “They are both world-class goalkeepers and I wouldn’t say that they are at different ends of their careers because Petr still has a long way to go with his career.”