Olivier Giroud’s Stunner Inspires Chelsea To Victory Against Atletico
Olivier Giroud’s stunning overhead kick inspired Chelsea to an important 1-0 away win against Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie at the Arena Nationala in Bucharest.
Restrictions imposed by the Spanish government due to COVID-19 meant the game had to be played in Bucharest instead of Madrid, despite the return match remaining at Stamford Bridge in three weeks time.
Edouard Mendy’s heavy touch in the opening minutes almost gave the chasing Saul Niguez a tap-in, while Timo Werner’s angled shot was saved by Jan Oblak and Suarez miskicked at the near post. The first half was tight with each side able to create openings, but the score was 0-0 at halftime
There were signs that Atleti were set to be more adventurous in the second half as Suarez saw an effort deflected wide and Felix fired an overhead kick off target.
Thomas Tuchel’s side were wasteful after creating several chances, but all that was missing was a composed finish. However, that changed with 20 minutes remaining.
Alonso got forward and his cross was deflected into the path of Giroud, who produced a superb overhead kick from 12 yards that found the bottom corner.
However, the goal was ruled out for offside, with Mount deemed to have knocked the ball forward for his team-mate. After after a lengthy VAR review, the decision was overturned when Atletico centre-back Hermosa was seen to have gotten the decisive final touch.
It remained 1-0 to Chelsea at the final whistle and Tuchel passed his toughest test since joining Chelsea, keeping the in-form Luis Suarez quiet while controlling possession throughout. The crucial away goal left Chelsea in a fantastic position to reach the last eight.
“If you see him (Giroud) on a daily basis you cannot be surprised,” Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel said after the game.
“He is totally fit, his body is in shape, his physicality is on a top level and mentally I have the feeling he enjoys every day. This is the level he needs to be. He trains like a 20-year-old, he is a guy who is serious and a mix of joy.”
Atletico didn’t manage a shot on target as Chelsea put themselves in pole position to reach the quarter-finals. Tuchel will be without Mason Mount and Jorginho in the second leg at Stamford Bridge on March 17 as they will be suspended after being booked.
𝐁𝐈𝐆 result in Bucharest! 🙌
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 23, 2021