After surviving a slightly inauspicious start, with Mount picking up an early yellow and Mendy almost gifting a goal with a loose touch, Chelsea settled in to dominate possession but fail to make inroads against Atléti’s deep defending.
A couple nice passes from Mount aside, all of Chelsea’s balls into the box were either greatly overhit or defended very well. With the “home” team packing their defensive third, often with six across the back, there was little room for Chelsea to operate, and that may be overstating that state of things.
A nutmeg from Mount followed by a sweet turn from Werner created Chelsea’s best chance in the first 45, but Oblak reacted quickly to throw his hands up to block.
The second half was more of the same as it became clear that it would take something special or something lucky to break the deadlock. We got both at once, with Giroud scoring from a spectacular overhead kick thanks to a lucky bounce off a defender. The goal was initially ruled out for offside, but VAR eventually decided that it was good. (Belated replays eventually showed that the defender simply misplayed his clearance under pressure from Mount.)
Atleti tried to switch to a more attacking style in the wake of the goal, but Chelsea held fast for a massive victory. It wasn’t pretty, but it was never going to be.
1 - Chelsea have won a Champions League game away from home in the knockout stages for the first time since March 2012. Wait.— OptaChelsea (@OptaChels) February 23, 2021
- Just a few changes from the weekend, with Jorginho and Christensen coming back in, Hudson-Odoi returning to wing-back, and Giroud getting the nod up front.
- Kante on for the final 20 minutes to try to protect the lead, Ziyech also gets 20 to spell Mount. James on for CHO for the final 10. Pulisic and Havertz (for Werner and Giroud) see the final 5 to make use of all five of our subs.
- Mount and Jorginho will both be suspended for the second leg on March 17 thanks to yellow cards picked up today.
- Next up: huge top-four/-six showdown against Manchester United at home on Sunday.