Chelsea extended their unbeaten run under Thomas Tuchel to 8 games as the Blues earned a vital 1-0 away win in their round of 16 first leg tie against Atletico Madrid. Tuchel’s men put in an impressive performance at Bucharest to shut out a stubborn Diego Simeone’s side by dominating possession and defending astutely.
The Blues settled down after a nervy two minute period in the first half, as Mason Mount was booked for a foul on Joao Felix, and Mendy almost gifted a tap in for Saul after his heavy touch.
Chelsea controlled the game with their possession and looked dangerous with their attacks through Hudson-Odoi and Alonso on the flanks. Werner produced a decent save from Oblak in the 39th minute after rifling his effort from the left channel.
Chelsea continued their domination in the second-half as Atletico were content to sit back in their own half. Chelsea opened the scoring in the 69th minute when Olivier Giroud scored from a spectacular bicycle kick after latching on to a miscued clearance from Hermoso.
Atletico changed their approach and attacked Chelsea for the final 20 minutes in search of an equaliser by making attacking substitutions. However, Chelsea stood firm to earn a vital away win to take home a one-goal advantage for the second leg.
Thomas Tuchel’s reactions
Speaking to reporters after the win, Thomas Tuchel admitted he was happy with his team’s will, desire and performance to get a great result against a very good side.
On Giroud and team’s performance
“He can be proud of his goal. I am super happy for my players that we had such a big reward and we can read it on the scoreline, that we have the result for the top performance. It was very important that we are absolutely concentrated over all 96 minutes and we accept that it is hard to create chances. It was a very good team effort.”
On Mount’s absence for second leg
“And Jorginho, we will miss two crucial players but I was happy with the performance of everybody, including Mason. Big effort, high work rate and intensity but we are used to him playing like this.”
“Honestlty, we now play Man U, Everton and Leeds but this is good, we cannot get comfortable or get lazy.“
On Giroud’s spectacular goal
“If you see him on a daily basis you cannot be surprised. He is totally fit, his body is in shape, his physicality is on a top level and mentally I have the feeling he enjoys every day. This is the level he needs to be.”
“He trains like a 20 year old, he is a guy who is serious and a mix of joy. He is always positive and a big factor for the group.”
Goalscorer Olivier Giroud expressed his delight with his team’s performance, and said “We came here with strong intentions to win the game.“
“We analysed well their game and knew how we could give them trouble offensively. I think we were very strong at the back, and I think we had the better chances. It’s a deserved win tonight I think.“
“We know the importance of the away goal in European cups, which is why I was very pleased to help the team to win the game. We managed well the game, we faced a great team and I think we were very, very committed, and we knew their main strength, so I think we dealt with that.”
“We just need now to stay focused and finish the job at home. I didn’t know what to think about the goal. I just tried to focus on hitting the ball well. I was pleased to see the ball in the back of the net, but to be honest I had no clue about being offside or not.“