Giroud wondergoal lights up dull encounter to give Chelsea advantage v Atletico


It was a wonder goal to win a woeful match.

Typical Olivier Giroud, the veteran striker who is just unstoppable in the Champions League.

This time Giroud scored with a sensational overhead kick to give Chelsea a huge chance to reach the quarter finals for the first time since 2014.

Giroud, at 34 years and 146 days is the oldest player to score in the knock-out stages, has scored 11 goals this season, six in the Champions League and yet none have been as important, painful or spectacular.

Painful because Giroud was made to wait nearly three minutes while German referee Felix Brych and the VAR checked it for the smallest detail – the ball hit an Atletico player – which allowed the goal to stand.



Olivier Giroud's superb bicycle kick gave Chelsea the win against Atletico Madrid
Olivier Giroud’s superb bicycle kick gave Chelsea the win against Atletico Madrid

Yet no Chelsea fan will be complaining about the VAR after this victory because, even though the game was for so long such a boring affair, it was video technology which overturned a linesman’s flag.

But also important for Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel because there can be no bigger vindication for the decision to bring him in last month to replace Frank Lampard.

Tuchel has turned Chelsea’s fortunes and season around while he also has the European pedigree to take them further having reached the final with Paris Saint Germain last year.

That was in stark contrast to Diego Simeone, his opposite number, because Atletico Madrid simply ran out of ideas and when boring the opposition into submission does not work then there is little else left. To be so defensive in their home tie should be unforgivable.

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Chelsea were worthy winners in Bucharest
Chelsea were worthy winners in Bucharest

Atletico do have a crippling injury list and yet started with Luis Suarez and Joao Felix up front but showed very little ambition to win a game which was supposed to be their home tie despite being staged in Bucharest because of coronavirus travel restrictions.

But now Chelsea have a priceless away goal, it gives them a big edge and, even though Simeone has overturned bigger deficits before, Tuchel’s men are clear favourites.

They were well disciplined, patient and in control even if the worst part of their night was seeing both Mason Mount and Jorginho getting booked which means they are both suspended for the return leg in three weeks’ time.

But they should not be intimated because Tuchel’s Chelsea look like they are ready to come of age on the biggest stage.



The likes of Luis Suarez failed to spark for Atletico
The likes of Luis Suarez failed to spark for Atletico

The night did start badly as Mount was booked within the first minute for a trip on Felix as the Atletico forward threatened to run through on goal.

Atletico are top of La Liga but it was Chelsea who bossed the game throughout with an authoritative performance.

Giroud scored four goals on his last start in the Champions League at Sevilla in December and it was no surprise that Tuchel went for his experience to lead the line in another crunch European tie.

But it was also Timo Werner’s movement and pace playing off Giroud which was often Chelsea’s best and most dangerous attacking outlet while Mount was busy and effective.

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Overall it was a thoroughly satisfactory night for Thomas Tuchel and his side
Overall it was a thoroughly satisfactory night for Thomas Tuchel and his side

Werner smashed a near post shot at Atletico’s goal but the ball was beaten away by Jan Oblak who has long been considered one of – if not the No1 – the best keepers in the world.

We never should have expected Atletico to come out to play in the second half. Felix went close with one effort but they just sat deep and eventually we had the breakthrough with 20 minutes to go.

Marcos Alonso put over a cross from the left, Mount helped the ball on and yet, crucially, it came off Atletico defender Mario Hermoso which meant Giroud was onside when he scored with his overhead effort.

It was a goal worthy of winning any tie.





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