Olivier Giroud’s magnificent bicycle kick broke Atletico Madrid’s resistance and earned Chelsea an important away purpose 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 received the ultimate contact, delivering an enormous blow to Atletico’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals. “I did not know what to consider the purpose, I simply targeted on hitting the ball,” mentioned Giroud. “I like an overhead kick and I used to be simply happy to see the ball hit the again of the online. I had no clue about being offside or not.”
Diego Simeone’s facet had placed on a usually 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 also be beneath risk after one win in 4 matches.
“If you happen to’d mentioned 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 certain,” mentioned Simeone.
“The outcomes aren’t going for us so we now have to work, work, work and work.”
Chelsea, in the meantime, handed their largest check since Tuchel was appointed on the finish of January, backing up a robust run towards lesser lights within the Premier League with a elegant show towards certainly one of Europe’s elite.
“We knew their strengths and handled them,” mentioned Giroud. “We have to keep targeted now and end the job.”
Giroud’s purpose within the 68th minute was solely the third Atletico have conceded in 14 residence legs of the Champions League knockout levels beneath Simeone, even when this fixture was at residence solely in identify.
Restrictions imposed by the Spanish authorities meant the sport needed to be performed in Bucharest as a substitute 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 in the course of the pandemic, “nevertheless and wherever that could be”.
Spanish golf equipment struggling in Europe
Their defeat makes it three residence losses out of three for Spain’s groups within the Champions League final 16 thus far, after Barcelona have been thrashed by Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla have been crushed by Borussia Dortmund final week.
Callum Hudson-Odoi began for Chelsea, regardless of Tuchel criticising the 20-year-old’s angle towards Southampton on Saturday.
Atletico began with Suarez, Joao Felix and Angel Correa however an attacking line-up took up a usually defensive form, a six-man wall rapidly forming in entrance of Chelsea within the opening levels.
The primary half was tight, all sides ready solely to create openings however failing to seek 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 regarded most harmful down the flanks, the place Marcos Alonso and Hudson-Odoi pushed Atletico again. Atletico had house 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 regarded 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 regarded offside, just for the replay to indicate it was Atletico’s Hermoso who had given him the help.
The purpose stood and Chelsea’s gamers celebrated, seemingly as shocked as anybody and delighted with a treasured benefit.
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