It was a reminder to everyone that Jose Mourinho is still the special one at Stamford Bridge. His Inter Milan team’s ruthless efficiency and cutting edge in attack made Chelsea look every bit the ageing outfit they are.
It was another major disappointment to add to those of the past few seasons, with the chastening defeat in Moscow to Utd and the semi final defeats to Liverpool and Barcelona still fresh in the memory.
Questions must now be raised at whether this current Chelsea squad needs serious surgery in the summer, especially if they are ever to win the holy grail for the owner- the Champions League.
Carlo Ancelotti must have been left frustrated at his team’s lack of invention and ideas all over the pitch. Michael Ballack and Frank Lampard were desperately quiet in Chelsea’s midfield; Lampard in particular starved of the ball around the edge of the box where he thrives.
Ballack was disappointing and questions over his long term future at the club are bound to be raised, alongside other players such as Deco, Hilario, Joe Cole and Paulo Ferreira.
Chelsea fans may have had great hope they could turn the tie around from the first leg, but most of that optimism was centred on whether the talismanic Didier Drogba could inspire them to victory as he so often does.
It was not to be. Inter Milan’s centre back pairing of Lucio and Walter Samuel were outstanding. Dogged and pillars of strength, they never looked like being bullied by the Ivorian, as so many other defenders have been in the past.
Mourinho, who first brought Drogba to English football, knew his strengths well. But he also knew his weaknesses.
With Drogba being superbly shackled, it was clear Chelsea’s hopes of European glory had ended for another year, even before Eto’o scored late on to seal the victory.
Drogba’s fierce duel with Lucio was a frustrating one for the striker, and this frustration may have boiled over to result in the red card he later received for kicking out.
Lucio, who was notably not wanted by Bayern Munich before Inter snapped him up in the summer, was a contender for man of the match alongside the excellent Wesley Sneijder in midfield.
The little Dutch schemer was a constant thorn in Chelsea’s defence, and it was his precise pass which led to Samuel Eto’o’s eventual winner.
Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti contested the Milan derby last season when Ancelotti managed AC Milan. The two managers have remained rivals since then, but this season there is no doubting who came out on top.
The Stamford Bridge walls still adorn placards and pictures of Jose Mourinho’s achievements, with his famous “special one” quote still on one of the pictures.
After the events of Tuesday night, it is clear that the quote still rings true. At Stamford Bridge, Jose is still the special one.