Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel reserved special praise for Olivier Giroud following his match winner against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last night.
The Blues dominated the proceedings against the La Liga outfit in the first leg of the round of 16 with the greater possession, chances created and shots on goal.
They got their due reward in the 68th minute as Giroud scored with a wonderful overhead kick to beat goalkeeper Jan Oblak, who was comfortable until then.
Initially, it seemed that he was way offside as the assistant adjudged Mason Mount to have played the ball into the Frenchman’s path for the strike.
However, following a lengthy VAR review of more than three minutes, Giroud was handed the goal as replays showed that Atletico defender Marco Hermoso mistimed his clearance.
That happened to be the only goal of the game but the Blues have the much-needed away goal advantage ahead of the return leg at Stamford Bridge.
Speaking after the 1-0 win, Tuchel talked about the 34-year-old’s professionalism and qualities and was pleased that the striker took his opportunity on the night.
He told Chelseafc.com: “He can be proud. If you see him on a daily basis you cannot be surprised. He is totally fit, his body is in shape, his physicality is at the top level.”
“Mentally, he tries every day being a professional top player at this level and this is the level he needs to be.
“He is the guy who brings a mix of seriousness and joy in training. He’s always positive and it’s a big factor for the group.
“Whether he starts or is on the bench he has all these qualities.”
Giroud has failed to earn a regular starting role for the Blues this term but he has still impressed with 11 goals in all competitions, six of them coming in Europe.
He was surprisingly an unused substitute in the 1-1 Premier League draw against the Saints last weekend despite scoring against Newcastle United in the previous game.
Tuchel acknowledged last night that Giroud could have played against the Saints. The Frenchman will most likely lead the line against Manchester United on Sunday.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com