Thomas Tuchel paid tribute to veteran striker Olivier Giroud’s professionalism after the striker’s acrobatic overhead kick secured Chelsea a vital win over Atletico Madrid.
Giroud defied his 34 years to score with a breathtaking bicycle kick to give the Blues a first-leg advantage going into next month’s return clash.
And Tuchel said: ‘If you see him on a daily basis, you can’t be surprised. His body is in shape, his physicality is top level. He enjoys every day being a professional soccer player. He trains like a 24-year-old.
‘He is the guy who has a good mix of being serious and enjoying training.
‘He is always positive and a big factor for the group. When he starts or comes off the bench, he has all the qualities.’
On his team’s crucial win, the Blues boss added: ‘I am super happy for my players and the team that we have such a big reward and can read it on the scoreline, that we have a top result for the performance.
‘It was very important we were absolutely concentrated over all 96 minutes, that we accept it is very hard to create chances, we did all that and it was a very good team effort.
‘But now we play Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton, Leeds and it is good like this. 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 Atletico (three weeks today).’
Giroud added: ‘I don’t know what to think about the goal. I just tried to focus on hitting the ball well.
‘I love overhead kicks and I was happy to see the ball hit the back of the net.
‘We came here with strong intentions to win, we analysed their game and knew how we could give them trouble.
‘We’ve been very strong at the back. We are very pleased, we had the better chances and deserved to win.
‘We know the importance of away goals — that was why I was very happy to help the team win.’
Last night’s clash was played in Bucharest due to Covid restrictions, and there is doubt as to whether Chelsea will be able to host the second leg at Stamford Bridge.
‘First of all, I hope truly we play at Stamford Bridge if possible. If we cannot play at Stamford Bridge, we will find a good solution that suits everybody and is possible,’ added Tuchel.
Chelsea midfielders Mason Mount and Jorginho will miss the second leg after being booked and Tuchel said: ‘We miss two crucial players and that makes things not easy for us.’