Thomas Tuchel praised an outstanding team effort after Chelsea took control of their Champions League tie against Atlético Madrid thanks to a stunning away goal from Olivier Giroud.
Chelsea dominated the first leg in Bucharest, where the game was played due to Covid-19 restrictions, and have a wonderful chance of progressing beyond the last 16 for the first time since 2014 after a VAR review showed that Giroud’s overhead kick was onside. Although Mason Mount and Jorginho will be suspended for the second leg on 17 March, Tuchel could celebrate his most impressive win since replacing Frank Lampard last month.
“I am not proud because I have nothing to do with it,” Chelsea’s manager said. “I am super happy for my players and for the team that we have such a big reward and that we can actually read it on the scoreline. It was very important that we are absolutely concentrated over all 96 minutes and that we accept it is very hard to create chances. We did all that and it was a very good team effort.”
Tuchel highlighted Giroud’s professionalism after the 34-year-old failed to make it off the bench during Chelsea’s draw with Southampton last Saturday.
“If you see him on a daily basis you cannot be surprised,” the German said. “He is totally fit, his body is in shape and mentally I have really the feeling that he enjoys every day being a professional soccer player at this level. He trains like a 24-year-old.” The only disappointments for Chelsea were Jorginho and Mount picking up yellow cards for fouling João Felix.
“It makes things not easy for us,” Tuchel said. “But honestly we play now Manchester United, Everton, Liverpool and Leeds. We cannot get too comfortable, we cannot get lazy. These games will push us to our limits and then we will think about solutions for the second game against Atlético.”
Giroud was delighted with his goal. “We came here with strong intentions to win, we analysed their game and knew how we could give them trouble,” the striker said. “We’ve been very strong at the back. We had the better chances – a deserved win.
“We know the importance of away goals. We managed the game well. We faced a great team. We were very committed. We just needed to stay confident. I don’t know what to think about the goal. I just try to focus on hitting the ball well. I love overhead kicks.”