Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri hailed the importance of hat-trick hero Olivier Giroud, as the Blues booked their place in the Champions League quarter-finals by beating Dynamo Kiev 5-0 on Thursday.
The Blues qualified 8-0 on aggregate, prevailing on the night thanks to goals from Marcos Alonso, Callum Hudson-Odoi and a hat-trick from Giroud.
Speaking after the game, Sarri was full of praise for his side’s performance. As quoted on the club’s official website, he said: “We started very well. We wanted to start in this way because it was important to score after the result in Stamford Bridge.”
Chelsea ran out emphatic winners in Kiev, having had a huge advantage coming to the Ukrainian capital following last Thursday’s 3-0 win in west London. It was an excellent performance from the Blues, who opened the scoring after just five minutes.
Sarri added: “We played a very good first half. In the second we managed the result. It was a wonderful performance for 90 minutes.”
While it was a solid team performance, striker Giroud was undoubtedly man of the match with his wonderful hat-trick. The Frenchman - who has seen little game time in the Premier League this season and has even been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge - took his Europa League tally up to nine goals, making him the competition’s top scorer this season.
Speaking about Giroud, Sarri maintained that the Frenchman is still an important asset for the club.
He said: “He was very, very good. In the last period every time he has been on the pitch he was able to play really very well. Olivier is a very important player for us. I am very happy for him and his hat-trick, and I am very happy with him.”
Although Giroud has only registered one goal in the Premier League, he has been Chelsea’s star man in Europe. He is the first Blues player to score nine European goals in a single season since Fernando Torres, when he reached the same figure in the 2012/13 season.
Despite the heavy eight-goal deficit, Sarri also gave credit to their hosts Dynamo Kiev when he said: “The problem in this moment of the season for Dynamo is that they are not in the top physical condition.
“Maybe two years ago they were better, but in this moment they are very young with a really great future.”
Chelsea return to Premier League action on Sunday afternoon, when they travel to Goodison Park to face Everton. They then have two weeks before their next match, which is a trip to Wales to play Cardiff City on 31 March.