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UCL PIX: Chelsea take slender lead; Bayern thrash Lazio

February 24, 2021 08:59 IST
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IMAGES from Champions League matches played on Tuesday.

Chelsea's Olivier Giroud scores against Atletico in acrobatic fashion in their Champions League round of 16 first leg match Arena Nationala in Bucharest, Romania, on Tuesday.

IMAGE: Chelsea's Olivier Giroud scores against Atletico in acrobatic fashion in their Champions League round of 16 first leg match Arena Nationala in Bucharest. Photograph: Octav Ganea/Inquam Photos via Reuters

A spectacular Olivier Giroud overhead kick gave Chelsea a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid in Tuesday's Champions League last-16 first leg in Bucharest.

The French striker broke the deadlock in the 68th minute with an outrageous bicycle kick which was flagged offside but eventually given following a lengthy VAR review as the ball had come off Atletico's Mario Hermoso before Giroud hit it.

 

Joao Felix had attempted an overhead effort earlier in the second half but missed the target in one of few chances for Atletico, who were forced to play their home leg over 3,000 kilometres from Madrid due to Spanish restrictions on arrivals from Britain to control the spread of COVID-19 infections.

Chelsea looked more likely to find a second goal than Atletico did an equaliser but Thomas Tuchel's side will be without Mason Mount and Jorginho in the second leg at Stamford Bridge on March 17 as they will be suspended after being booked.

"We came here with strong intentions to win, play our game and we knew how to cause them trouble offensively," said match-winner Giroud.

"We have been strong at the back in the defensive shape and we're very pleased with the win, it was a deserved win tonight."

Atletico keeper Jan Oblak said his side had been too anxious in attack but insisted their spirits remained high.

"In the dressing room I saw a team with its head held high and I'm convinced we're going to improve," he said.

Atletico have led the La Liga standings for most of the season but have experienced a dip in form in February and went into Tuesday's match smarting from a shock 2-0 defeat at home to Levante after drawing two of their previous three games.

Deprived of the usual raucous atmosphere they would normally expect for a European knockout game at the Wanda Metropolitano and forced to take a four-hour flight to the game, there was little sense of them having a home advantage.

They played with little ambition or intensity and could not manage a single shot on target to bother Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy.

"I don't think this is a crisis for us, it's just a little different," added Oblak.

"In a difficult situation you see how strong a team really is and I'm sure we're going to come out of this period and keep moving forward."

Chelsea played with more confidence and purpose and were only let down by their final pass.

Luckily for them, they could count on the improvisation of Giroud when Hermoso's attempted clearance sent the ball looping backwards and within range of the Frenchman.

"I didn't know what to think about the goal, I just focussed on hitting the overhead kick and was pleased to see it go in the back of the net, I had no clue about being offside," Giroud said.

"We know the importance of the away goal in European Cups so I was pleased to help the team win the game."

Lewandowski hits goal landmark as Bayern Munich hammer Lazio in Rome

FC Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski celebrates on scoring the first goal against Lazio Roma during their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match at Olimpico Stadium in Rome

IMAGE: FC Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski celebrates on scoring the first goal against Lazio Roma during their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match at Olimpico Stadium in Rome. Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Robert Lewandowski became the Champions League’s third top scorer of all time as holders Bayern Munich put one foot in the quarter-finals with a 4-1 thrashing of Lazio in their last-16 first leg in Rome on Tuesday.

The Polish striker pounced on a poorly judged back pass after nine minutes to steer in his 72nd goal in the competition.

In doing so, he surpassed former Real Madrid striker Raul in the competition scoring charts to reach a total only bettered by Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo, with 134 goals, and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, with 119.

Bayern’s 17-year-old midfielder Jamal Musiala doubled their advantage with a well-taken strike that made him the youngest English player to score in the competition.

Leroy Sane tapped in a third before the break and a Francesco Acerbi own goal stretched the visitors’ advantage early in the second half, but Joaquin Correa soon pulled one back for Lazio, whose unbeaten run in the competition came crashing to an end.

"We attacked Lazio from the start," Bayern captain Manuel Neuer told Sky Sport.

"I liked our intensity, we showed our best face, different from what we’ve shown recently in the Bundesliga. We’ve certainly made our lives easier for the second leg.”

It was an 18th consecutive match without defeat for Bayern in the Champions League, 17 of which have been victories, leaving the German champions in a dominant position ahead of the second leg in Munich on March 17.

Bayern came into the game with a point to prove after earning one point from two league games since winning the Club World Cup earlier this month.

They soon demonstrated their pedigree against a Lazio side competing in its first Champions League knockout match since 1999.

Lewandowski anticipated a loose pass from Mateo Musacchio and rounded Pepe Reina to tap in, but Lazio were furious when penalty claims were waved away after Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was felled in the box.

England Under-21 international Musiala, who is also eligible to play for Germany, fired into the bottom corner after 24 minutes.

Bayern then put the contest beyond doubt when Sane tapped in from a Reina parry and Acerbi diverted a cross into his own net either side of the break.

Lazio produced chances of their own, finishing the game with 14 attempts to Bayern’s 13, but Correa’s weaving run and finish was their only successful effort.

“We knew beating Bayern was difficult," Lazio midfielder Lucas Leiva told Lazio Style.

"But we helped them by how we played. This isn’t the Lazio that we know, it was a difficult night.

"We need to learn from this defeat and take the experience, then we’ll go to Munich to play with pride and mentality."

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