Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel hailed the longevity of Olivier Giroud after the
striker scored a fine winner against Atletico Madrid in their Champions League
last 16 first leg on Tuesday.
The France international produced a wonderful overhead kick in the 68th minute to secure a 1-0 victory at Arena Nationala in Bucharest, with coronavirus travel restrictions preventing the tie taking place at the Wanda Metropolitano.
While 34-year-old Giroud had to wait for a lengthy VAR check, the goal was eventually given and it was his sixth in the competition this season after a crucial late effort at Rennes and a four-goal haul at Sevilla in the group stage.
Tuchel said: “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 have really the feeling he enjoys every day being a professional soccer 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 serious 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.”
Chelsea recovered from a nervy opening few minutes in Romania to dominate the majority of the contest and prevent La Liga leaders Atletico from having a single shot on target.
The Blues boss added: “I am super happy for my players and the team for such a big reward. We actually can read it on the scoreline that we have the result against top opponents.
“It was very important that we are absolutely concentrated over all 96 minutes and 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.”
Simeone: Difficult vs quality attack
Atletico were without several players, including the suspended Kieran Trippier, and struggled in unfamiliar surroundings to suffer a second straight defeat following Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Levante.
It is now one victory in five games for Diego Simeone’s side and he said: “I understood we had to play like this.
“I think the main problem was we didn’t have a lot of precision about taking back the ball.
“It was a hard game, no one had a lot of chances of scoring but also it was very difficult with their attack because they have really strong and quality players.”