It was a night to forget for Atletico Madrid as Premier League side Chelsea registered a crucial 1-0 win away from home in their round of 16 UEFA Champions League tie. The West London club were authoritative in Bucharest and exposed the Rojiblancos' lack of creativity, giving themselves a great opportunity to progress to the next phase of the tournament.
The first half was mostly one-way traffic, with Chelsea seeing almost all of the ball and pinned Diego Simeone's side into their own half. Tuchel's men assumed control of proceedings and strung over 400 passes with 71% of the possession, but unfortunately had very little to show for. Atletico attempted to hurt Chelsea on the counter but failed to muster as much as a shot on target.
The visitors began with the second 45 performances with more purpose and attempted to up the ante but were still kept at bay by a well-drilled Atletico Madrid low block. The Rojiblancos' star forwards Joao Felix, and Luis Suarez saw very little joy as they spent the majority of the game defending in their own half.
Matters for the hosts got even worse in the 68th minute as French striker Olivier Giroud pulled off a sublime albeit slightly fortuitous overhead kick to give Chelsea the lead. Although the goal was immediately called off as Giroud was deemed to be offside, it was eventually given after a VAR check that lasted nearly three minutes as the final touch was off Spanish defender Mario Hermoso.
Atletico needed a quick response, and, with less than 20 minutes of regulation time left on the clock, they finally began to commit bodies forward. However, they still evidently lacked a cutting edge to cut through a solid Chelsea side and ultimately failed to register a shot on target throughout the 90 minutes of the game.
Chelsea take a one-goal advantage into the second leg, and Atletico Madrid have a huge task ahead of them, based on this game's evidence. Tuchel's men will be happy with a hard-fought win at night, and they showed great character to grind out a win against an industrious Rojiblancos side.
Here are the hits and flops from the game.
#5 Hit: Mason Mount | Chelsea
English midfielder Mason Mount showed once again why he continues to be picked irrelevant of which manager is in charge. It might not have been a breathtaking performance that set the world alight, but such was the nature of the game in itself, and Mount — with a combination of industry and creativity — was instrumental for Chelsea.
The 22-year-old continued to occupy a free role in the final third, and, despite not being afforded too much space, he managed to conjure a few great passages of play for the Blues. Mount was also benefitted by the fact that Atletico were pinned into their own third, in that he didn't have to drop too deep to collect the ball too often. His deliveries from the right also caused Atletico a few troubles, and Mount almost managed to set Timo Werner free with a through ball on more than one occasion.
He played on the right-hand side where Cesar Azpilicueta and Callum Hudson-Odoi occupied Hermoso, Felipe, and Thomas Lemar (more on him later), allowing Mount to get into good areas. He was a willing runner and despite a sub-par first 45, his contribution to Chelsea's pressure in the second half was remarkable. Mount also had the pivotal touch leading to the only goal of the game midway through the second half.
#4 Flop: Mario Hermoso | Atletico Madrid
It was a night to forget for Atletico Madrid as a whole as their performance was a far cry from what they've shown in LaLiga Santander so far, and there were more than just two flops on the night. However, Mario Hermoso made his way onto this list particularly after a moment that could potentially go on to cost his side the tie.
Marcos Alonso delivered a peach of a cross from deep on the left and Hermoso — after a deft touch from Mount — opted for an unnecessary clearance over his head and failed to deal with it. The ball eventually found Giroud, who would have been in an offside position if not for Hermoso's intervention, and the Frenchman ultimately scored the winner.
In Hermoso's defence, the former Real Madrid man did put up a decent display in the first half to deal with the overloads Chelsea caused on the right side. He was ultimately undone in the second half, allowing the likes of Mount and Hudson-Odoi much more joy on his flank in the second 45. One moment of madness from the young Spaniard went on to define the costly result for Atleti. That is, of course, apart from a stunning finish from Giroud.