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Chelsea will take a 1-0 lead in the Champions League round of 16 home game with Atlético de Madrid after a high shot from Olivier Giroud gave them a narrow win in the opening match.
Having dominated much of the game, the pressure from Chelsea finally kicked in with just over 20 minutes remaining when Giroud reacted to the failed punt to score impressively.
It puts the Blues in a good position for the reverse match, to be held at Stamford Bridge despite the fact that Atlético were forced to give up their home advantage, with tonight’s game played in Romania.
Chelsea controlled the first half, took 71% of the possession and had five attempts at goal compared to Atlético.
But that was not reflected on the scoreboard line, with the full-backs entering goalless at half-time.
Timo Werner had two chances, but failed to upset Jan Oblak. First, he failed to convert Mason Mount’s attractive center home from the right, then fired a direct shot at the towering goalkeeper after finding space in the area.
Thomas Lemar and Luis Suárez had half chances for the Spaniards, whose game plan was clearly the counterattack, but neither of them could divert their efforts towards the goal.
Play returned to the same rhythm early in the second half, with Chelsea seeing a lot of the ball and looking to create.
Mount was heavily involved, seeing a low shot blocked in the 50th Minute before placing Werner on the left after a good job in the midfield shortly after, however, the German’s delivery to the middle was cut off by the defense.
Atlético normally stayed strong at the rear and the Blues were even more frustrated when Jorginho received a warning ruling him out of the second leg. He joins Mount, who was previously reprimanded in the contest, in being suspended.
But Thomas Tuchel’s men finally made a well-deserved breakthrough in 67th minute thanks to a spectacular aerial kick from Giroud.
After the ball bounced off Mario Hermoso and into the air, Giroud quickly adjusted before finding the bottom left corner with an acrobatic effort.
His celebrations were initially interrupted after the linesman ruled he was offside, but a lengthy VAR review ruled otherwise and the Frenchman scored his goal.
La Liga leaders offered little response, failing to register a shot on goal all night.
In fact, it was Chelsea who came closest to finding the second goal of the game when Werner ran, but found the side net.
But the Premier League team was able to comfortably watch the game and take the lead in the tie with a textbook performance away from home in European competition.