Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel hailed his players after the English club took control of their Champions League last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid.
Olivier Giroud’s stunning overhead kick secured a 1-0 victory over Atletico in the opening leg of the European matchup on Tuesday – the match played in Bucharest due to coronavirus travel restrictions between the United Kingdom and Spain.
Chelsea dominated proceedings against the LaLiga leaders as Tuchel continued his fine run since replacing Frank Lampard last month.
Former Paris Saint-Germain head coach Tuchel has conceded just two goals in eight games as Chelsea manager – the only coach in the club’s history to concede fewer goals after eight games in charge is Jose Mourinho (one).
2 – Thomas Tuchel has conceded just two goals in eight games as Chelsea manager; in the club’s history, the only coach to concede fewer goals after eight games in charge is José Mourinho (one). Masterclass. pic.twitter.com/fkvHRIwEfT
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 23, 2021
Tuchel credited his players post-match, telling reporters: “I am super happy for my players and the team for such a big reward. We actually can read it on the score line that we have the result against top opponents.
“It was very important that we are absolutely concentrated over all 96 minutes. That we also accept that it’s very hard to create chances, but we did all that and it was a very good team effort.”
While Tuchel became only the second manager in Champions League history to manage two different clubs within a single season after Ronald Koeman in 2007-08 (PSV and Valencia), Chelsea forward Giroud claimed a record of his own.
Aged 34 years and 146 days, Giroud became the oldest player to score a Champions League knockout goal for Chelsea, and the oldest to do so for an English side since Ryan Giggs (37) for Manchester United in April 2011.
Giroud’s spectacular 68th-minute goal was initially disallowed for offside before VAR intervened.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 23, 2021
“I’m not proud of [Giroud’s goal] because I had nothing to do with it,” Tuchel said. “So it was not my achievement. He can be proud.”
Tuchel added: “If you see him on a daily basis, you cannot be surprised. He is totally fit, his body is in shape and his physicality is on top level.
“Mentally I really have the feeling he enjoys every day being a professional football player on this level and this is the level he needs to be. He trains like a 20-year-old, like a 24-year-old. He is a guy who has a good mixture of seriousness and joy in training.
“He is always positive and it is a big factor for the group. He starts, when he comes from the bench, he has all these qualities and it is good like this.”