Giroud goal gives Chelsea vital lead at Bucharest
2020-21 UEFA Champions' League Round of 16 First Leg:
Atletico Madrid 0, Chelsea 1 – Tuesday, 23rd February 2021.
A spectacular second-half strike by Olivier Giroud gave Chelsea a vital away goal in a 0-1 first leg win against Atletico Madrid in a Round of 16 tie at the National Arena, Bucharest on Tuesday night.
In fact, in a match where the Blues dominated for the better part, things began rather shakily for Thomas Tuchel's men with Mason Mount booked for a foul on Joao Felix inside the first minute and goalkeeper Edouard Mendy making a hash of things after a heavy touch in the penalty area but Atletico midfielder Saul was unable to make the most of the custodian's error.
The London club did not look back after that as they started to dominate the proceedings. A long-range effort from Marco Alonso midway through the first half represented the first shot on target from either side. Chelsea almost got their first just before 15 minutes but Mason Mount's cross whizzed past the goalmouth with Timo Werner failing to connect well at the near post.
Atleti hit Chelsea on the counter just before half-time with Angel Correa finding space behind the defence, but Luis Suarez couldn't deal with the short cross that came his way. Chelsea showed wastefulness in the final third, even as they controlled the game for large swathes and the desired finishing looked elusive as both teams went into the break goalless.
With 20 minutes of play remaining, Alonso careening forward delivered a cross that deflected to Giroud who produced a brilliant low overhead kick from 12 yards that beat Atleti keeper Jan Oblak all ends up to find the bottom corner of the net. The goal was immediately ruled out for offside before a VAR referee review revealed that the ball had bounced off Atletico defender Mario Hermoso.
It was just reward for Chelsea's positive style in the face of the dogged and attritional approach from Diego Simeone's side. They rarely troubled a Blues outfit who comfortably kept the in-form but increasingly frustrated Luis Suarez in check.
Chelsea have now gone eight matches unbeaten since Tuchel took over from Frank Lampard while Giroud is emerging as a bogey-man for Spanish sides after scoring all four goals in the group-stage win against Sevilla.
It was also a good night for young Callum Hudson-Odoi as it was in large measure due to the England forward's energy and hard work that Chelsea find themselves in great control ahead of their second-leg tie in March 18th at Stamford Bridge, London.
Atletico Madrid startig XI in a 3-4-2-1 formation: Oblak (goal), Llorente, Savic, Felipe, Hermoso, Saul, Koke, Lemar, Correa, Joao Felix, Suarez
Subs: Torreria, Lodi, Dembele
Chelsea startig XI in a 3-4-2-1 formation: Mendy (goal), Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Alonso, Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, Werner, Kovacic, Mount, Giroud
Subs: Ziyech, Kante, Havertz
Man of the match: Olivier Giroud
Results from other Round of 16 matches on Tuesday, 23rd February 2021.
Lazio 1 – Correa 49m / Bayern Munich 4 – Lewandowski 9m, Musiala 24m, Sane 42m, Acerbi 47m (og)
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