Chelsea took a huge step towards the Champions League quarter-finals with a huge 1-0 first-leg win over Diego Simeone’s Atléti. Olivier Giroud scored a vital away goal for the Blues with a spectacular overhead kick as it ended Atlético Madrid 0-1 Chelsea.
Thomas Tuchel’s side dominated possession in the first half but were unable to threaten in front of goal against a defence minded Atlético side. Diego Simeone’s side had done very little to test Edouard Mendy in the Chelsea goal as the score was 0-0 at half-time.
It proved to be the same case after the restart as Chelsea continued to be the better side but João Félix’s bicycle kick for Atléti was the best attempt in the early stages. However, the Blues at last took a deserved lead on 68 minutes as the ball fell to Olivier Giroud in the penalty as the Frenchman’s scored an outrageous overhead kick to make it Atlético Madrid 0-1 Chelsea. It proved to be the winning goal as Tuchel’s side picked up a brilliant victory over the Spanish giants.
Thomas Tuchel made four changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Southampton at the weekend. Edouard Mendy retained his place in goal whilst Andreas Christensen came into the back three ahead of Kurt Zouma alongside Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rüdiger. Meanwhile, in midfield, Callum Hudson-Odoi started at right-wing-back with Reece James dropping to the bench as Marcos Alonso started on the opposite side.
Jorginho came back into the starting eleven alongside Mateo Kovacic with the two having thrived together since Tuchel’s arrival. Olivier Giroud started in place of Tammy Abraham with Timo Werner and Mason Mount in alongside him in the front three.
As for Atlético Madrid, three changes were made by Diego Simeone from Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Levante. Slovenian shot-stopper Jan Oblak started in between the sticks as usual but centre-back Jose Maria Gimenez limped off in the Levante game with injury. Stefan Savic replaced him in the back three along with Felipe and Mario Hermoso.
Saul Niguez came in for Geoffrey Kondogbia at central midfield alongside Koke whilst at wing-back, Thomas Lemar started over Renan Lodi with Marcos Llorente keeping his place on the right hand side. Atlético’s front three remained the same as João Felix and Angel Correa started on the wings in behind La Liga’s joint-top goalscorer Luiz Suarez.
The first real chance of the game fell to Atlético as Luis Suarez won possession of Mateo Kovacic before squaring the ball to Thomas Lemar at the back-post, who couldn’t get the right touch to tap home. Meanwhile, up the other end, Chelsea came to close to scoring as Mason Mount crossed the ball into the middle to Timo Werner but the German was unable to find the back of the net.
A few moments later, the Blues felt as though they should have a penalty as Werner went down in the area but nothing was given. Midway through the first half, Thomas Tuchel’s side had a chance as the ball fell to Marcos Alonso. However, his drilled effort was comfortable for Jan Oblak.
Chelsea had dominated proceedings in the first half but had struggled to create many chance against a stubborn Atlético defence. With seven minutes before the break, the Blues had the best chance up to that point as an attempt by Werner was kept out by Oblak.
Both sides had struggled to create much in front of goal as both went in at the break goalless. Despite their dominance in the first half, the Blues had done very little to threaten Oblak in the Atlético goal and continued to search for that all important away goal in the second half. Meanwhile, Diego Simeone’s side had not done much to threaten Edouard Mendy and looked to have had a more defensive approach to the game.
HT: Atlético Madrid 0-0 Chelsea
Chelsea continued to be the better side in the second half and had a chance on 55 minutes as Callum Hudson-Odoi showed some promise on the near side but his shot deflected into the hands of Oblak. Meanwhile, Atlético had their first chance after the restart as an acrobatic attempt from João Félix was well over the bar.
With 22 minutes to go, Chelsea broke the deadlock and in some style. The ball came off Hermoso and into the path of Olivier Giroud, whose brilliant bicycle kick went past Jan Oblak. A VAR check was made due to Giroud being offside but the ball came off Hermoso last meaning the goal counted. Atlético Madrid 0-1 Chelsea.
Straight after the goal, Tuchel made a double change as Mount and Kovacic came off with Hakim Ziyech and N’Golo Kanté replacing the two. A few minutes later, Hudson-Odoi’s night was over as he made way for Reece James to try and see out the game.
Meanwhile, Atlético Madrid made a triple change as Renan Lodi, Lucas Torreira and Moussa Dembele were brought on in place of Angel Correa, Saul Niguez and João Félix. With eight minutes to go, Chelsea had a chance to double their advantage as the ball was played into Werner but Oblak was on hand to make a save.
Diego Simeone made another substitution as Vitolo came on in place of Mario Hermoso whilst Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic also came on for Chelsea with Giroud and Werner making way. In the closing stages of the match, Atlético struggled to created much in front of goal as the Blues held out for a huge victory against Atlético.
FT: Atlético Madrid 0-1 Chelsea
Atlético Madrid (3-4-3): Oblak (GK); Savic, Felipe, Hermoso; Llorente, Koke, Niguez, Lemar; Correa, Félix, Suarez
Subs used: Dembele (for Correa, 82 mins), Torreira (for Niguez, 82 mins), Lodi (for Félix, 82 mins), Vitolo (for Hermoso, 84 mins)
Chelsea (3-4-1-2): Mendy (GK); Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rüdiger; Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Mount; Werner, Giroud
Subs used: Ziyech (for Mount: 74), Kanté (for Kovacic, 74 mins), James (for Hudson-Odoi, 80 mins), Havertz (for Giroud, 87 mins), Ziyech (for Werner, 87 mins)
Goals: Giroud (68 mins)
Atlético Madrid 0-1 Chelsea Final Thoughts
A brilliant result in Bucharest as the Blues take a vital lead heading into the second leg at Stamford Bridge. Giroud scoring the important away goal with outstanding overhead kick which was fully deserved having dominated the match.
The first half was certainly a frustrating affair as we struggled to break down Simeone’s side but had been the better side. However, the pressure at last paid off by scoring that goal in the second half which was well deserved for Chelsea that secured the win.
The Blues will back in league action on Sunday afternoon at home to Manchester United in what will be a tough test for Tuchel’s team. Meanwhile, Atlético Madrid return to action in La Liga as they take on Unai Emery’s Villarreal on Sunday night.
Written by Matt North (@MattNorth_)
Edited by Rob Pratley
Be sure to follow us: