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A marvelous shot over the head from Olivier Giroud gave Chelsea a 1-0 away win over Atlético Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16.
The first half was a tepid affair with Atlético retreating to a low six-man block each time they were out of possession. Chelsea had some luck defeating them, but it was Los Rojiblancos who seemed the most threatening against them.
Just after the hour, Giroud opened the scoring in an incredible way. Clutching a ball that bounced around the area, the Frenchman produced a perfect aerial kick that slipped past Jan Oblak’s outstretched hands. The goal was initially ruled out for offside, but was disallowed after a lengthy VAR control.
There was no late rally from Atlético, which means the Blues are favorites to advance to the quarterfinals when the two teams meet for the second leg on March 17 at Stamford Bridge.
Here are the ratings of the Atlético and Chelsea players from the Spanish capital …
Jan Oblak (POR) – 6/10 – There was little he could do to avoid Giroud’s incredible effort. Kicking could have been better.
Felipe (CB) – 6/10 – He got up high to complete some important head clearances. However, he barely touched the ball.
Stefan Savic (CB) – 7/10 – The most assertive of Atlético’s centrals. He came off the bottom line to face Werner and Giroud effectively on several occasions.
Mario Hermoso (CB) – 7/10 – His pass was close to perfection. He didn’t miss a single long-range pass all night.
Marcos Llorente (RWB) – 5/10 – Completed for the suspended Kieran Trippier once again. A misplaced pass in the second half will have worried his coach and in his attempt to recover he was booked for a foul on Werner.
Koke (CM) – 5/10 – He broke the game well at times, but was quite boring on possession.
Saul Niguez (CM) – 6/10 – A truly destructive presence in midfield. For starters, he racked up four tackles and a pair of interceptions.
Thomas Lemar (LWB) – 5/10 – He came close to opening the scoring in the first half, only poorly timing his run to the back post by a fraction. Other than that, he was quiet.
Angel Correa (RW) – 5/10 – A ‘forward’ in name only. He spent most of the game as a second winger and contributed some tackles and blocks.
Luis Suárez (ST) – 7/10 – Impressive. He used his cunning and cunning to cause some problems for Chelsea center-backs.
Joao Felix (LW) – 5/10 – He missed a bike kick attempt when he probably should have brought him down. He struggled to get into the game.
Moussa Dembélé – 6/10 – He added little to the attack on his side, although he did not receive much service.
Renan Lodi – N / A
Lucas Torreira – N / A
Vitolo – N / A
Edouard Mendy (POR) – 5/10 – His unfortunate first touch almost gave Atlético a goal in the first exchanges. It was established after that, but it didn’t have much to do.
Cesar Azpilicueta (CB) – 7/10 – A couple of shaky moments at the beginning, but he recovered well. Dominant in the air.
Andreas Christensen (CB) – 7/10 – He had some fighting duels with Suárez. He made an impressive entrance at the end.
Antonio Rudiger (CB) – 7/10 – Apart from a mistake in the first half, he did well. The German played from behind without a problem, only missing seven passes in the entire game.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (RWB) – 7/10 – Lemar caused all kinds of problems with his tireless runs down the right wing. The delivery was not bad either and he defended himself diligently.
Jorginho (CM) – 7/10 – Some of his cross passes were a pleasure to behold. He kept possession when he had to. Unfortunately, he got a yellow, which means he will miss the next leg.
Mateo Kovacic (CM) – 7/10 – He kept Chelsea going with his fascinating short pass. He also showed his vision on occasion.
Marcos Alonso (LWB) – 7/10 – His rebirth continued. Alonso superimposed enthusiastically all night and his cross led to the goal.
Mason Assembly (RW) – 7/10 – One of the key sources of Chelsea’s creativity. It was fundamental in all the brightest moments of the Blues. A real shame that the second leg is lost after taking a yellow.
Olivier Giroud (ST) – 8/10 – What? A goal. Aside from his sumptuous overhead, Giroud also contributed some neat passing and disciplined pressure.
Timo Werner (LW) – 7/10 – Some really heartening moments. He was involved in some lightning quick exchanges on the edge of the area that helped him slip behind the defense.
Hakim Ziyech – 6/10 – He offered Chelsea a threat at the counter, but the delivery was interrupted.
N’Golo Kante – 6/10 – He worked very hard after entering.
Reece James – N / A
Kai Havertz – N / A
Christian Pulisic – N / A