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HE is not just a pretty face, Olivier Giroud - his finishing can be gorgeous too.

Thomas Tuchel, who has done a spot of male modelling himself, will
have fully appreciated the chiselled striker’s acrobatic strike, which
propelled Chelsea to within touching distance of a first Champions
League quarter-final in seven years.

Oh my, Olivier Giroud! ????

He just loves scoring worldies, doesnt he!?

VAR initially ruled the goal out but it stands as Mario Hermoso was deemed to have deflected the ball onto the Frenchman ???? pic.twitter.com/CAweQ8SzAR

— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 23, 2021 10Olivier Giroud scored an incredible bicycle kick as Chelsea beat Atletico Madrid 1-0Credit: Reuters 10The Frenchman celebrates what could turn out to be a crucial away goalCredit: AFP OR LICENSORS 10Chelsea players mobbed Giroud after his stunning winnerCredit: AP:Associated Press

Giroud had to agonise for three long minutes before his bicycle kick
was awarded by VAR, having originally been chalked off for offside.

But it was well worth the wait as Tuchel extended his unbeaten run to
eight matches with a first-leg defeat of the La Liga leaders in
Bucharest.

This was his best result to date - and it was fully deserved as the
Blues, often naive under previous boss Frank Lampard, were more than a
match for the most streetwise team on the European block.

World Cup-winner Giroud has six Champions League goals this season and
the 34-year-old Frenchman’s experience earned a precious away goal -
which still count double in the event of a draw, even without home
advantage.

The second leg is scheduled for Stamford Bridge March 17 - but that is
still subject to a Covid-related change of venue.

Chelsea have not reached a quarter-final in this competition since
2014 - when they were eventually defeated by Atletico in the last
four.

But Tuchel led Paris St Germain to last summer’s final in a
breakthrough European campaign for the filthy-rich French club - and
he clearly has the tactical sharpness to make Chelsea serious
contenders in Europe’s elite club competition once more.

Diego Simeone’s men had suffered only their second La Liga defeat of
the season with a shock reverse against Levante and were still without
their England full-back Kieran Trippier, due to a ludicrous betting
ban.

Olivier Giroud has scored 1️⃣5️⃣ goals in his 1️⃣6️⃣ #UCL and #UEL starts for Chelsea ????

He loves playing in Europe! ???? pic.twitter.com/4KVSVIZct4

— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 23, 2021 10Luis Suarez and Antonio Rudiger inevitably clashed in RomaniaCredit: AP:Associated Press

Tuchel’s Chelsea has been defensively stout but aside from a narrow
win at an off-colour Tottenham, there had been no serious tests before
this.

With Atletico, then Manchester United and Liverpool up next, it is
getting serious for the German now - and victory in neutral Bucharest
was an outstanding way to kick off such a series of red-letter
fixtures.

Tuchel started Callum Hudson-Odoi at wing-back after his bizarre
substitution at Southampton, half an hour after he’d come off the
bench.

And Hudson-Odoi responded with verve and vigour - linking up well with
fellow English youngster Mason Mount on several occasions.

It has been a shaky old start for Chelsea - Mount suffered a booking
that rules him out of the second leg and Edouard Mendy got away with
a horrible slip inside the opening two minutes.

Soon Antonio Rudiger was out-muscled and dispossessed by Luis Suarez
who centred across the face of the goal, with Thomas Lemar unable to
finish.

Yet Chelsea were soon passing, moving and probing for an opening.

Mount whistled one across Atletico’s goal, with Werner narrowly
failing to connect.

10Edouard Mendy thwarts Atletico superstar Luis SuarezCredit: EPA 10Thomas Tuchel offers instruction during the win in RomaniaCredit: EPA

Timo Werner played a one-two with Giroud and tumbled in the box but
neither his fellow German, ref Felix Brych, or the VAR were impressed.

It was one of those typical Atletico performances - solid, stacked in
defence but hardly thrilling. They sat back, soaked it up and
thundered forward on the occasional counter-attack.

But their defence was finally pierced by a cute Mount pass which
released Werner, whose shot was pushed away at the near post by Jan
Oblak.

Marcos Alonso picked out Mount with a gorgeous curling cross but the
England man was unsure whether to shoot or cross and ended up doing
neither.

Still, this was promising stuff from the Blues - Hudson-Odoi and Mount
frequently linking up down the right and causing headaches for the
Spanish side.

Mount was in lively form, slipping past a couple of defenders and
sending Werner clear but the German getting funnelled wide.

10Mason Mount will miss the second-leg after picking up an early booking in BucharestCredit: Rex Features 10Neither side were able to break the deadlock in the opening 45 minutesCredit: AP:Associated Press

Joao Felix sent an acrobatic volley over the bar when Atletico broke swiftly.

Suarez was indulging in his usual histrionic villainy, diving and
bellyaching to his heart’s content.

But Jorginho was booked - and, like Mount, he will be suspended for the return.

Giroud’s moment arrived on 68 minutes - Mount appeared to have played
him through, so when the Frenchman unleashed his stunner, the linesman
flagged.

But after a tortuous wait, the remote official decided the last tough
had come off Atletico defender Hermoso - and Chelsea’s celebrations
lacked nothing in delirium for the delay.

‘Ansum’, as they say down at the Bridge.

10Werner came close to scoring in the first-half but for Jan Oblak's outstretched gloveCredit: Reuters Most read in Champions LeagueLive BlogLAZIO 1 BAYERN 4Sane, Musiala, Lewandowski on target as Bayern rout Lazio in RomeLive BlogATLETICO 0 CHELSEA 1Olivier Giroud scores brilliant BICYCLE KICK as Blues win in BucharestOCEAN BLUEAbramovich's superyachts, from '£25m gift to Putin' to new £430m SolarisVideoSANTI CLAUSWatch Santi Cazorla's cracking last-minute winner for Al Sadd spark wild sceneson the pulBayern 'make contact with Chelsea over Pulisic' to replace Man Utd target ComanExclusiveDOCK & AWEChelsea owner Roman Abramovich's £430million superyacht seen for the first time

Giroud has been a European specialist for Chelsea over the last couple
of seasons.

Every time it has appeared as though his days with the Blues might be
numbered, he seems to pop up and produce something special on the
continent.

With so many of Europe’s superpowers at a low ebb right now, this
feels like a year when one of England’s contenders could have a
serious tilt at lifting Old Big Ears in Istanbul in May.

And with Tuchel at the helm, Chelsea have as good a chance as any of them.

Watch Chelsea fans tease Marcos Alonso with new 'don't be slow' chant as team arrive in Bucharest for Atletico clash

News Source: the-sun.com

Tags: chelsea email ap associated press quarter final antonio rudiger pic twitter com atletico madrid the second leg olivier giroud the second leg edouard mendy marcos alonso thomas tuchel chelsea chelsea over the opening for chelsea mason mount hudson odoi luis suarez

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Madrid returns to wins over Zalgiris Kaunas – Latest News, Breaking News, Top News Headlines

NBA :

By Eurohoops team/ info@eurohoops.net

Real Madrid got a much-needed win after losing to Valencia and Baskonia, despite missing half their backcourt. However, even without Sergio Llull, Rudy Fernandez, and Jeffery Taylor, the “Whites” led from wire to wire on the way to the 70-58 win over Zalgiris Kaunas.

Gabriel Deck scored 14 points, while Trey Thompkins and Jaycee Carroll led a balanced offensive effort with 12 points each as the “Whites” shot 50% in threes (14/28) and that was enough.

“[Reaching 2,500 points] is pretty cool”, said Carroll after the game. “I didn’t know I was coming up to that milestone. It means that I had the opportunity to play at this level for a while and I am excited about that. I think it is pretty cool.”

Coach Pablo Laso admitted that it was a sloppy game for his team which made 22 turnovers, however, he had an issue with the fact that his player didn’t go to the line once: ” “My players are asking me if I ever, in my career, saw a game where we didn’t go to the line one time. I don’t know if that happened again in the EuroLeague. I can’t explain it and I don’t know what to say to my players about that in the locker rooms”.

Zalgiris was also missing Arturas Milaknis, whose streak of 200 consecutive EuroLeague games was broken. Paulius Jankunas with 13 points tried his best but it was not enough.

Madrid jumped to a 23-11 lead in the first quarter, but Zalgiris trimmed it to five at halftime (36-31) and even to one (39-38) at the start of the third quarter. However, the guests couldn’t get over the hump, Real Madrid finished the third period leading by nine (51-42) and got even a 16-point advantage (64-48) on the way to an easy win.

As Zalgiris coach Martin Schiller admitted: “The challenge for us was obviously scoring the basketball and we did that in the beginning. We knew it was going to be tough because Real was extremely long, extremely good defensively, and we couldn’t figure out, how to put the ball in the hoop. Again, therefore I think Real deserved the win and congratulations.”

The “Whites” with a 16-10 record are tied with Bayern Munich on the 4th spot of the standings, while Zalgiris is tied with Valencia on the 9th spot at 14-12.

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