Olivier Giroud was delighted to be back on the scoresheet after heading home the winner against BATE Borisov, and the fact the goal secured our place in the next stage of the competition, with two matches still to play, made it all the more satisfying for the French striker.
Giroud started for the first time since the corresponding fixture at Stamford Bridge and had a decisive impact on the outcome of the game, scoring his first goal of the season seven minutes into the second half with a well-taken header from a wonderful Emerson Palmieri cross.
Having hit the woodwork three times, BATE will probably feel as though they deserved something from the game, but Giroud was simply pleased we were able to record a fourth consecutive win in this season’s competition, and progress to the next stage.
‘When you don’t succeed in scoring from the chances you created you always expose yourselves to a comeback from the opponent,’ said Giroud, reflecting on the fact the home side finished the game strongly. ‘They played with a very deep block in the first half and it was difficult for us to find solutions between the lines and spaces in behind.
‘At the end of the day we are happy with the three points because we want to finish first but we played a very good team. They had great team cohesion, they defended all together and they were dangerous on the counter attack.'
The goal was Giroud’s first in a Chelsea shirt since he headed the winner against Liverpool towards the end of last season, and he was grateful to Emerson for providing such an inviting delivery from out on the left-hand side.
‘I was hoping to score soon because I came back late from the World Cup and I was lacking maybe a bit of efficiency and luck, but you always need to keep working hard and keep the faith and that’s what happened,’ he explained. ‘It was a good cross from Emerson and that’s what we need to do more often.’
The Blues welcome Greek side PAOK to the Bridge in our penultimate group fixture, before we travel to Hungary to take on MOL Vidi in our final game.
We now need just one point to ensure we progress as group winners, and although we weren’t at our best against BATE, Giroud believes there were plenty of positives to take on what was ultimately a productive night for Maurizio Sarri’s side.
‘The manager kept saying we need to qualify from the group, and the earlier the better, so we’ve done the job even if we could have been more efficient,’ he said. ‘It’s a clean sheet and we won the game. We defended very well and they defended cohesively, so it was difficult to find solutions at times and stop them on the break.’