Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has praised his players for the ‘hard work’ and ‘team effort’ that saw them succeed in breaching a usually ironclad Atletico Madrid defence in the Champions League on Tuesday night, labelling it one of the ‘toughest challenges’ in football.
La Liga leaders Atletico had conceded only six goals in their first 16 league games of the season. But even though they have started to leak a few more goals in recent weeks, Diego Simeone’s side still have the joint meanest defence in Spain and remain a formidable unit.
Chelsea dominated possession during the contest - relocated from Madrid to Bucharest as a result of coronavirus travel restrictions into Spain from the UK - and Olivier Giroud scored a stunning overhead kick midway through the second half to hand the Blues an away goal aggregate lead.
“Fantastic result, a fantastic goal. And well deserved,” Tuchel said to BT Sport after the final whistle.
"We wanted to dominate in the opponents' half, to never lose concentration, not to do any easy mistakes and always be aware of quick counter-attacks for all their quality. It was a very disciplined performance - a deserved shut-out. This is the hard work, a team effort - the basis for a big win.
“We knew they were ready to suffer with eight people in the box. The intention was to keep the intensity high. This is what we did very good. We never let them breathe or come out for counter-attacks. We have a big reward with this result.
“This is one of the toughest challenges, to open a defence like Atletico.”
Tuchel will be determined for his side to take that performance level into the Premier League visit of Manchester United to Stamford Bridge on Sunday. The Blues are still unbeaten under the new boss, but a draw against Southampton last time out ended a run of four consecutive league wins.