Final Score – Atletico Madrid 0-1 Chelsea
Olivier Giroud’s magnificent bicycle kick gave Chelsea a crucial away-goal win against Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League last-16.
His 71st minute goal was awarded after a lengthy VAR check had ruled deliberate contact by Mario Hermoso, which looped the ball up in the Atletico area, played Giroud onside to convert.
Playing the home leg in Romania due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, Atletico shot out of the blocks at a startled Chelsea.
Mason Mount was booked and suspended for the second leg after a foul on Joao Felix in the first minute.
And Edouard Mendy was inches away from conceding a penalty after receiving a tricky back-pass within two minutes.
Callum Hudson-Odoi, criticised by Thomas Tuchel for his effort in a half-hour against Southampton, showed plenty when tracking Thomas Lemar who could not quite convert Luis Suarez’s inviting ball across the six-yard box inside the opening quarter-hour.
Chelsea found control thereafter but Atletico, looking to bounce back from the only defeat in either side’s past eight games to Levante at the weekend, made them work for everything by pressing high then retreating deep.Embed from Getty Images
La Liga danger-man Suarez, goalless in the Champions League this season, was primarily reduced to theatrics after every challenge following the break, as Chelsea’s own tactics nullified him.
Like Mount, Jorginho ruled himself out of the return leg by halting a Felix break just past the hour.
Then Giroud’s spectacular strike broke the deadlock with his first knockout stage goal since 2015.
Chelsea closed out the game in composed fashion to protect the lead they will have in three weeks at Stamford Bridge.