Olivier Giroud’s magnificent bicycle kick broke Atletico Madrid’s resistance and earned Chelsea a vital away aim on Tuesday, a 1-0 victory giving Thomas Tuchel’s facet a slender benefit within the Champions League final 16. Giroud’s acrobatic strike was initially dominated out for offside however stood after VAR confirmed Mario Hermoso had acquired the ultimate contact, delivering an enormous blow to Atletico’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals. “I did not know what to consider the aim, I simply targeted on hitting the ball,” stated Giroud. “I like an overhead kick and I used to be simply happy to see the ball hit the again of the web. I had no clue about being offside or not.”
Diego Simeone’s facet had placed on a sometimes disciplined defensive efficiency till that time however Giroud’s second of genius means they must rating in London on March 17 if they’re to keep away from an early exit.
It additionally continues a worrying dip for Atletico, whose lead in La Liga can be below risk after one win in 4 matches.
“In the event you’d stated to me in September we might lose this primary leg 1-0 and be prime of the league, I might have signed for that for positive,” stated Simeone.
“The outcomes aren’t going for us so we’ve to work, work, work and work.”
Chelsea, in the meantime, handed their largest take a look at since Tuchel was appointed on the finish of January, backing up a robust run towards lesser lights within the Premier League with a cultured show towards certainly one of Europe’s elite.
“We knew their strengths and handled them,” stated Giroud. “We have to keep targeted now and end the job.”
Giroud’s aim within the 68th minute was solely the third Atletico have conceded in 14 dwelling legs of the Champions League knockout phases below Simeone, even when this fixture was at dwelling solely in identify.
Restrictions imposed by the Spanish authorities meant the sport needed to be performed in Bucharest as an alternative of Madrid, regardless of the return match remaining at Stamford Bridge in three weeks’ time.
Tuchel admitted the change gave his facet a bonus however Simeone refused to complain on Monday, insisting he felt lucky to play throughout the pandemic, “nonetheless and wherever that is likely to be”.
Spanish golf equipment struggling in Europe
Their defeat makes it three dwelling losses out of three for Spain’s groups within the Champions League final 16 up to now, after Barcelona had been thrashed by Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla had been overwhelmed by Borussia Dortmund final week.
Callum Hudson-Odoi began for Chelsea, regardless of Tuchel criticising the 20-year-old’s perspective towards Southampton on Saturday.
Atletico began with Suarez, Joao Felix and Angel Correa however an attacking line-up took up a sometimes defensive form, a six-man wall rapidly forming in entrance of Chelsea within the opening phases.
The primary half was tight, all sides ready solely to create openings however failing to search out the move to make an opportunity.
Edouard Mendy’s heavy contact within the opening minutes nearly gave the chasing Saul Niguez a tap-in whereas Timo Werner’s angled shot was saved by Jan Oblak and Suarez miskicked on the close to put up.
Chelsea seemed most harmful down the flanks, the place Marcos Alonso and Hudson-Odoi pushed Atletico again. Atletico had area on the break however lacked the precision to capitalise.
Felix sprung into life early within the second half, feeding Thomas Lemar after which assembly the Frenchman’s cross with an acrobatic volley that flew over.
The sport seemed destined to complete goalless just for Atletico to briefly lose form, permitting the instinctive Giroud to take benefit.
Alonso had raced away from Marcos Llorente down the left and his cross was diverted backwards to Giroud, who brilliantly bicycle-kicked into the nook, however seemed offside, just for the replay to indicate it was Atletico’s Hermoso who had given him the help.
The aim stood and Chelsea’s gamers celebrated, seemingly as shocked as anybody and delighted with a valuable benefit.