Sports Desk, Feb 23 (efe-epa).- Chelsea prevailed 0-1 Tuesday over an uninspired Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League knockout stage tie, while holders Bayern Munich signaled their determination to hoist the trophy again with a 1-4 thrashing of Lazio.
Though Atleti has had success this season with a greater emphasis on attack, coach Diego Simeone opted for an ultra-conservative approach in Bucharest, where the match was moved due to Spain’s Covid-19 restrictions on travel from the United Kingdom.
Defense has always been the hallmark of Simeone’s game, but Atleti showed an excess of respect for a Blues squad who are no better on paper than the Colchoneros.
The ostensible hosts had only 36 percent possession and failed to put a single shot on target.
Chelsea, under new coach Thomas Tuchel, made 680 passes to fewer than 400 for Atletico and outshot their opponents 11-6.
Despite their ambition, the London club generated just one moment of danger in the first half, an effort from Timo Werner saved by Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
The score was still 0-0 past the hour mark and it looked as if Simeone’s strategy might pay off until Olivier Giroud broke the deadlock in the 68th minute with a tremendous overhead kick.
The referee was set to wave it off for a Chelsea offside, but VAR showed that Atletico’s Mario Hermoso inadvertently played the ball to the 34-year-old Frenchman and the goal stood.
The second leg is scheduled for March 17 at Stamford Bridge.
Unlike Atletico, Lazio were able to play their “home” game in their home stadium, but even a full house at Rome’s Olimpico would probably not have been enough to help them Tuesday against Bayern.
The holders led 0-3 at the break on goals by Robert Lewandowski, Jamal Musiala and Leroy Sane.
With his 72nd goal in the competition, the Polish international moved up to third on the Champions League scoring list, behind only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Musiala, meanwhile, became the youngest player ever to score in Europe’s elite club competition with a goal two days before his 18th birthday.
The situation grew even bleaker for Lazio just two minutes into the second half when Francisco Acerbi accidentally knocked the ball into his own net after keeper Pepe Reina came off his line to counter Sane.
Joaquin Correa pulled one back for the home side two minutes later. EFE