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On song for Europe

Olivier Giroud has been finding the back of the net at a prolific rate in this season’s Europa League, with the chance to become the competition’s top scorer when we face Malmo, but which players have managed the most goals for Chelsea in a single European campaign…

The Frenchman has scored an impressive five goals in our Europa League campaign so far, netting once each in the away matches at BATE Borisov and Vidi in the group stage and again in the first leg of our last-32 tie in Sweden, as well as bagging a brace in our most recent home game, with PAOK.

That puts him joint second in this season’s Europa League top scorers list, with only Salzburg’s Munas Dabbur currently outscoring Giroud, with six goals to his name, although Luka Jovic (Eintracht Frankfurt) and Wissam Ben Yedder (Sevilla) also have five.

As well as potentially seeing him match Dabbur at the top of that list, if Giroud continues his run of goals against Malmo, he will also become a member of Chelsea’s top 20 European scorers of all time, by matching Joe Cole, David Luiz, Michael Essien, Juan Mata and Dennis Wise’s totals of six. It’s fair to say he still has a way to go to match Didier Drogba’s record of 36 though!

However, when it comes to our highest European scorers in a single campaign, Giroud’s tally is already among some of the best. In fact, only six players have ever bettered the 32-year-old’s five goals.

The last person to score more European goals than that was Fernando Torres, who set a new club record by hitting the net nine times in continental competition in 2012/13, although his cause was perhaps helped by the fact our fluctuating form that season saw us competing in the Champions League, Europa League and UEFA Super Cup.

After getting three goals in the Champions League group stage, it was in the Europa League knockout stages that Torres really came to the fore, scoring six times in as many games at the business end of the competition, including getting the opener as we beat Benfica 2-1 in the final in Amsterdam. He followed that up by keeping his status as our top European scorer the next season, scoring four times as we reached the Champions League semi-finals.

That tally of nine puts the Spaniard narrowly ahead of Peter Osgood and Tore Andre Flo, who both managed eight in a season, albeit 28 years apart. Surprisingly, Osgood’s were not scored en route to lifting our first European trophy in 1970/71, although he was our top scorer that season with four, but in our short-lived defence of the Cup Winners’ Cup the following year.

Amazingly, all eight were scored across the two legs of our first-round tie against part-timers Jeunesse Hautcharage from Luxembourg. Our European-record 21-0 aggregate win has become the stuff of legend, with so many far-fetched tales told about our hapless opponents it has become impossible to tell the truth from footballing myth.

One thing that is certain though, is that Ossie bagged a hat-trick in the first game before netting five times in the home leg, although it still wasn’t enough for him to win his bet with goalkeeper Peter Bonetti after claiming he would score six before the match.

Flo’s moment of glory came in 1999/00, as Chelsea entered the Champions League for the first-ever time and reached the quarter-finals in a gruelling 16-match campaign featuring a preliminary qualifying round and two group stages.

The Norwegian’s highlights were arguably also the Blues’ best moments, as he scored the first two of our goals as we recorded an incredible 5-0 victory at Galatasaray’s infamously hostile Ali Sami Yen Stadium, before getting another brace as we humbled Barcelona 3-1 at Stamford Bridge.

Next up is former French international, Nicolas Anelka, who scored seven times as we reached the 2010/11 Champions League quarter-finals, including doubles against Zilina and Copenhagen.

Gianluca Vialli and Drogba have managed six in a season, both while helping us to win a continental trophy. Vialli did so in the 1997/98 Cup Winners’ Cup, getting his first away at Slovan Bratislava and then netting five across the two legs against Tromso, with his brace in the shock 3-2 loss in a Norwegian snowstorm vital to keeping us in tie despite farcical conditions.

Interestingly, that means all six of Vialli’s goals were scored during Ruud Gullit’s time in charge, before the Italian took over as player-manager for the second half of the campaign.

Unsurprisingly, Drogba’s six-goal tally came in the 2011/12 Champions League campaign. His equaliser in the final against Bayern Munich is obviously the most famous, but his opener in the comeback win over Napoli in the last 16 and the header which gave us a 1-0 semi-final win over Barcelona at Stamford Bridge were almost as important.

The Ivorian also holds the record for finishing the most number of seasons as our top scorer in Europe, with the six occasions he managed the feat fully double that of the next best, Osgood and Frank Lampard.

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