First blood to Chelsea
For long spells, there was very little to get excited about in the first leg of Chelsea’s Champions League knock-out tie with Atlético Madrid. But it was dull by design. Atlético Madrid kept the game tight, surrendering the ball to Chelsea, hoping to take one chance on the break. It is a tactic that has proved fruitful for Diego Simeone over the past decade, and also what has deterred other super clubs from courting the manager.
But this time, it worked against them.
In the 68th minute, Olivier Giroud breathed life into the game with a spectacular overhead kick from 12 yards out.
The Frenchman played a pivotal role, as he so often does, in the build up to the goal. First, he won the ball in the air before bringing it under control and laying it off to Mateo Kovačić. The Croatian then played a short through ball to the overlapping Marcos Alonso, who whipped in a cross to the edge of the box. It wasn’t the best cross, not the one Giroud was hoping for, and after a far from ideal first touch from the Frenchman, the chance seemed to have gone.
Mason Mount and Mario Hermoso competed for the second ball, which then fell to Giroud, who showed off his acrobatic talent with a stunning finish, reminiscent of his scorpion kick against Crystal Palace in January 2017.
As you can tell by Giroud’s reaction, the initial decision wasn’t ruled in Chelsea’s favour.
Therefore, sadly, the officiating did mean that Giroud wasn’t able to celebrate in the way he would have liked but at least VAR did confirm that he was onside and that the screamer was legitimate.