LONDON (AP) ― A season of the unexpected for Atletico Madrid will end with its first Champions League final in 40 years ― and against no less than its hometown rival.
Having already broken up the established order of Spanish soccer, the capital’s No. 2 team overpowered Chelsea 3-1 Wednesday night on goals by Adrian Lopez, Diego Costa and Arda Turan.
Real Madrid, seeking a record 10th title, will play Atletico at Lisbon on May 24 in the second straight one-nation Champions League final and the first that is a city derby.
“They’re a very powerful club used to those big European nights,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “It’s been many years for us as a club, so it’ll be a new experience, but we’re keen and excited.
|Atletico’s Adrian Lopez celebrates after scoring Wednesday. ( AP-Yonhap)|
In its only previous appearance in the European final, Atletico lost a replay to Bayern 4-0 in 1974 after a 0-0 tie.
Also seeking its first La Liga title since 1996, Atletico has a four-point lead over second-place Barcelona with three games left and is six points ahead of Real, which has four matches remaining.
In La Liga this season, Atletico won 1-0 at Real Madrid in September and tied 1-1 at home in March. Real swept their Copa del Rey matches in February 3-0 and 2-0.
Last May, Atletico beat Real in the Copa del Rey final, ending a 14-year, 25-game winless streak against its rival.
“Playing like we play, we are the strongest team in the world,” Atletico midfielder Tiago said. “And we deserve what we have in this moment.”
Following a 0-0 tie in Spain last week, Fernando Torres put Chelsea in front in the 36th minute, shooting off a cut-back pass from Cesar Azpilicueta and beating goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois with a 10-yard shot that deflected off Mario Suarez. Torres, who has just 10 goals this season, didn’t celebrate after scoring against his former team.
Adrian Lopez tied the score in the 44th, giving Atletico a critical away goal. He was unmarked 6 yards out when Juanfran cut the ball back from the endline, past John Terry and Ashley Cole.
Costa converted a penalty kick in the 60th after Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli ruled second-half substitute Samuel Eto’o brought down Costa.
“The penalty killed the game,” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said. “After that moment the game was controlled by Atletico, very mature and professional.”
Turan scored with his right foot from 6 yards in the 70th after his own initial header appeared to be pushed off the crossbar by the fingertips of goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
“We completely controlled the game against a great side,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said through a translator.
After Turan’s goal, Simeone launched himself on a Mourinho-style dash down the sideline.
“He has changed our mentality,” Tiago said. “We all work together, we work as a team. Playing like we play we are the strongest team in the world.”
It was the fourth successive semifinal loss for Mourinho, who left Real after last season for a second term as Chelsea manager. The Blues, the 2012 European champion, are second to Liverpool in the Premier League and might wind up trophyless in his return season at Stamford Bridge.
If Mourinho wanted to prove criticism of recent ultra-defensive tactics didn’t affect him, he had six defenders in his starting 11.
“When things go in a certain direction, there is a moment where you can dream and you think that things are possible, even if things are not so,” Mourinho said.