By Paul Lagan
Atletico Madrid 0 v Chelsea 1
Olivier Giroud scored a spectacular goal to put Chelsea in the driving seat as they beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 away in Bucharest, Romania in the first leg of the last 16 of the Champions League tonight.
It was a game of few chances enlivened only by the France striker’s acrobatic overhead kick deep into the second half.
The only downside is that Mason Mount will miss the return leg at Stamford Bridge following a yellow card after two minutes for a foul on Felix.
Then it was the only real scare for the Blues when seconds later a heavy touch by Eduardo Mendy almost gave the ball away to Luis Suarez.
Thankfully the goalkeeper got away with it.
Luis Suarez almost set up Lemar on 15 minutes, but the winger failed to latch onto the ball at the far post.
Then it was Timo Werner, who almost got a touch to Calum Hudson-Odoi’s right byline cross.
The Blues started to dominate possession on 25 minutes, Marcos Alonso saw a low drive from distance easily held by Jan Oblak.
The Spanish side’s stopper showed strong hands to thwart Werner on 40 minutes when the striker turned quickly and let fly with a powerful left-footer.
There were no changes by either side at half time.
The second half was largely uneventful apart from the goal with a yellow card for Jorginho on 64 minutes – meaning he too will miss the return leg.
But then the game burst into life for the west Londoners.
Olivier Giroud thought he had scored a spectacular goal with an acrobatic bicycle kick. The goal was adjudged to be offside on 69 minutes. But after a VAR intervention and a two and a half minute delay, it was awarded.
It was Giroud’s sixth Champions League goal of the season.
Giroud was not offside as the ball came off Madrid’s defender Hermoso who had deliberately played the ball.
Head coach Thomas Tuchel immediately replaced Mount and Mateo Kovacic, for N’Golo Kante and Hakim Ziyech.
Reece James then entered the fray with 10 minutes left – Hudson-Odoi made way.
Giroud was replaced by Kai Havertz on 86 minutes while Christian Pulisic took Werner’s place.
The Blues cruised to the final whistle.
Teams: Chelsea, Mendy, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso, Mount, Werner, Giroud
Subs, Kepa, Kante, Abraham, Pulisic, Caballero, Zouma, Chilwell, Ziyech, Gilmour, James, Havertz, Emerson
Oblak , Savic, Felipe, Hermoso, Llorente, Koke, Lemar, Saul, Correa, Sequeira, Suarez,
Subs, Grbic, Kondogbia, Torreira, Lodi dos Santos, Dembele, Machin Perez, Camelot, Garcia, Sanches, San Roman
Referee : Dr Felix Brych
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.