Sport Football Schwarzer fills the breach for Chelsea

Schwarzer fills the breach for Chelsea

Mark Schwarzer
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Australian veteran Mark Schwarzer has been handed a dream finish to the season with Chelsea’s No.1 goalkeeper Petr Cech ruled out of the club’s final push for English Premier League and Champions League titles.

Schwarzer replaced Cech when he badly injured his left shoulder early in Tuesday’s 0-0 draw with Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final in Madrid.

The Australian became the oldest player to feature in the knockout stages of the Champions League at the age of 41.

And he now has the chance to complete a career dream as he attempts to help win Champions League and Premier League titles.

Signed as Cech’s back up on a one-year deal, Schwarzer has barely featured in his first season at Chelsea since moving from London rivals Fulham though he did start in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at home to Sunderland.

While he survived some scares, Schwarzer kept a clean sheet after being called into action against Atletico Madrid, ensuring Chelsea have a home ground edge for the return leg.

“It happened very quickly, but I’m getting used to it,” Schwarzer said of his call to action.

“I just tried to do my job but, like all the others, I was up for it.

“We knew if we could match their determination, our quality would shine through.”

Chelsea face a title-deciding game with leaders Liverpool at the weekend – they trail the Reds by five points – and then the second leg with Atletico next Wednesday at Stamford Bridge in London.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho confirmed Cech’s plight after landing awkwardly when he clashed with Raul Garcia while defending an Atletico corner in the 17th minute.

“Petr Cech’s season is over. Don’t ask me technically, but season over,” said Mourinho.

In a double injury blow, Mourinho also revealed captain John Terry will be out for the remainder of the Premier League season because of a foot injury suffered in the second half.

Unlike Cech, though, he could be fit if Chelsea reach the Champions League final on May 24.

“John – we have to play in the final for him to play with us.”

Chelsea face a title-deciding game with leaders Liverpool at the weekend – they trail the Reds by five points – and then the second leg with Atletico next Wednesday at Stamford Bridge in London.

Chelsea will also be without Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel for the return leg due to suspension, and Atletico captain Gabi will also miss the game after a yellow card.

At the Vicente Calderon on Tuesday, 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.

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.

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

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

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, while 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.

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