Olivier Giroud’s serious blow – awarded by VAR – gave Chelsea a vital away win against Atletico Madrid with 1: 0, bringing Thomas Tuchel’s men in control of the last 16 games.
In a predictably close encounter, Giroud acrobatically connected the house with the remaining 20 minutes, but the celebration was muted as the shooter’s flag was currently raised. However, the ball veered off Mario Hermoso, not Mason Mount, as VAR noticed, and after three minutes of deliberation, a goal was scored.
Atletico La Liga leaders have been forced to play a domestic leg more than 3,000 kilometers from Madrid due to Spanish restrictions on arrivals from Britain to control the spread of COVID-19 infections.
Thomas Tuchel has faced his toughest test since joining Chelsea, but he cleverly set up his team in Bucharest, holding the lid on Luis Suarez, while controlling possession all the time. Atletico failed to score as Chelsea were brought into pole position to reach the quarter-finals. Tuchel will be without Mason Mount and Jorginho in a rematch at Stamford Bridge on March 17, as they will be suspended after receiving a card.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak (6), Llorente (6), Savic (6), Felipe (6), Hermoso (6), Saul (6), Koke (6), Lemar (6), Correa (6), Joao Félix (7) , Suarez (6)
Subs: Torreria (6), Lodi (6), Dembele (6)
Chelsea: Mendy (7), Rudiger (7), Christensen (7), Azpilicueta (8), Alonso (7), Hudson-Odoi (8), Jorginho (7), Werner (6), Kovacic (7), Mount (7) )), Jury (7)
Subs: Zieych (6), Kante (7), Havertz (6)
Man of the match: Olivier Giroud
Tuchel leaves Chelsea …
Callum Hudson-Odoi – who was singled out by his manager in a draw with Southampton – was the surprise starter on the right for Tuchel in the cage opening match.
It was booked within 60 seconds for Mount for a foul on Joao Felix, meaning he will be suspended next month for a rematch at Stamford Bridge.
At that time, Edouard Mendy almost managed to squeeze a goal past the visitors after a strong touch in the penalty area, but Saul did not manage to make the most of the goalkeeper’s mistake.
The Premier League then began to dominate the possession, and Marcos Alonso’s long-range effort represented the first shot on goal from both sides.
There were signs that the Athletes should have been more adventurous in the second half as Suarez saw the shot bounce and Felix headed over the goal.
Although Chelsea were wasteful in the final third, Tuchel’s team controlled the ball in a shrewd way and only the final finish was missing.
That changed with the remaining 20 minutes.
Alonso moved well forward and his cross shot turned onto the Giroud track, which excellently executed a header from 12 meters that found the bottom corner.
He was immediately disqualified from offside and Mount was thought to have knocked the ball forward for his team-mate, but after a lengthy VAR review it was ruled that Atletico Hermoso center-back had received a crucial final touch.
A crucial away goal that leaves Chelsea in a fantastic position to reach the final eight.
Man of the match: Olivier Giroud
This was another subtle reminder of the French striker that he could still be a dangerous option for Chelsea. For most of the evening, Chelsea struggled to find the ultimate killer dog in their frontmen, but that didn’t deter Giroud, who was always sniffing out the chance, always looking for half a yard he could take advantage of. His moment came with the remaining 20 minutes and he used it in a typical posh way, with a little help of course from VAR. At 34, he remains at the top of the game.
“If you see him every day, you can’t be surprised,” Tuchel said.
“He is completely ready, his body is in shape, his physicality is at the top level and mentally I have the feeling that he is enjoying every day. That is the level that should be.
“He trains as a 20-year-old. He’s a guy who’s serious and a mixture of joy.”
- Tuchel became the third Chelsea manager to win his first major game in the Champions League, when the game took place in the knockout phase after Robert Di Matteo and Guus Hiddink.
- Atletico Madrid failed to score a single goal against Chelsea – for the first time they failed to score a goal in a UEFA Champions League match since March 2019 against Juventus.
- Giroud has scored six goals in the Champions League this season, which is his best comeback in a single campaign in the competition.
- Mason Mount’s yellow card after 55 seconds was the fastest card shown in the UEFA Champions League this season.
- Tuchel (Chelsea and PSG) became only the second manager in the history of the UEFA Champions League to manage two different clubs in one season after Ronald Koeman 2007/08 (PSV and Valencia).