Olivier Giroud scored a stunning overhead kick to give Chelsea a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid in their Champions League last 16 first leg against the La Liga leaders.
The Frenchman initially had his strike ruled out for offside, but VAR was used to identify that Giroud had latched on to a ball off Mario Hermoso rather than one of his Chelsea teammates, therefore the goal stood.
Very few opportunities were created in the first half, although Timo Werner stung the palms of Jan Oblak with a strike to the near post after being played in behind the Atletico Madrid defence by Mason Mount.
Chelsea's French striker Olivier Giroud (2R) dives for the ball next to Atletico Madrid's Montenegrin defender Stefan Savic, Atletico Madrid's Brazilian defender Felipe and Atletico Madrid's Spanish midfielder Saul Niguez during the UEFA Champions League
Image credit: Getty Images
Chelsea looked the more likely of the two teams to make something happen and so it proved when Giroud struck his spectacular overhead kick winner which required a lengthy VAR review to check whether the Frenchman had been onside.
Diego Simeone made a number of late changes, but Atletico Madrid failed to truly test Edouard Mendy in the Chelsea goal as Thomas Tuchel’s side left Bucharest with a valuable 1-0 away victory.
TALKING POINT - Atletico Madrid’s revert to type didn’t work
Currently top of La Liga, Atleti looked like being tricky last 16 opponents for Chelsea when the draw was made. Simeone’s side have changed their ways this season, playing a more expansive style of football than they have been known for over the years. But Atletico Madrid reverted to type for this match, adopting a conservative and compact approach. This decision backfired as the likes of Joao Felix and Luis Suarez were cut off and Atleti failed to register a single shot on target.
Chelsea's French striker Olivier Giroud (C) celebrates after scoring during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Chelsea at the Arena Nationala stadium in Bucharest on February 23, 2021
Image credit: Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH - Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)
There were a number of standout performers for Chelsea, with Mason Mount and Timo Werner both impressing for the Blues, but when the big moment came it was Giroud who took it. While the Frenchman might not have been involved as much as Werner, who gave Chelsea an outlet down the channels, he provided an attacking apex in the way the Blues have lacked at times this season. How long until we all just accept that Giroud is the best striker Chelsea have right now?
Atletico Madrid - Oblak 6, Savic 5, Felipe 5, Hermoso 4, Llorente 5, Koke 5, Saul 5, Lemar 6, Correa 5, Felix 6, Suarez 5. Subs - Vitolo 3, Dembele 3, Lodi 3.
Chelsea - Mendy 5, Azpilicueta 7, Christensen 6, Rudiger 7, Hudson-Odoi 7, Jorginho 7, Kovacic 6, Alonso 6, Mount 7, Werner 8, Giroud 8. Subs - James 3, Kante 5, Ziyech 4, Pulisic 5, Havertz 5.
14’ Across the face! Chelsea lose the ball at the byline, Suarez drives a pass to the back post, but Lemar couldn't stretch far enough to finish it into the back of the net. First real opportunity!
41’ Werner is denied! The Chelsea forward turns Savic inside the Atletico Madrid penalty area and gets a powerful strike away, but Oblak makes the strong save at his near post! Better from Chelsea!
71’ GOAL! Atletico Madrid 0-1 Chelsea: The goal stands after a long VAR check and what a goal it was! The ball spun up into the air inside the Atletico Madrid penalty box and Giroud found the back of the net with a stunning overhead kick! Chelsea have a valuable lead in the away leg!
Olivier Giroud has scored 15 goals in his 16 starts for Chelsea across in the Champions League and Europa League.
Edouard Mendy has kept more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper in the Champions League this season (5).