Giroud ends goal drought as Blues march on
OLIVIER Giroud ended his drought by scoring the only goal to lead Chelsea to a 1-0 win at BATE Borisov on Thursday that clinched a place in the knockout stage of the Europa League with two group games to spare.
Chelsea’s fourth win from as many Group L games was played out in freezing fog and memorable only for France World Cup winner Giroud’s first Blues goal since May’s win over Liverpool.
BATE, comfortably beaten last month in London, struck the woodwork three times and Eden Hazard’s services were required for longer than anticipated in Belarus.
Manager Maurizio Sarri was gesticulating wildly in his technical area as frustration built, before Chelsea scored.
Emerson Palmieri found Giroud who beat Denis Scherbitski at the near post for the all important goal.
The Blues held on to qualify with two matches to spare and extend their unbeaten run to 17 games, since August’s Community Shield loss to Manchester City.
In Russia, Rangers let a lead slip three times in a 4-3 defeat by Spartak Moscow. An early own goal and strikes from Daniel Candeias and Glenn Middleton each put Rangers ahead 3-2.
But Luiz Adriano headed another equaliser in the 58th minute and Connor Goldson, who scored a first-half own goal, inadvertently diverted Sofiane Hanni’s strike into the net seconds later.
Dynamo Kiev defeated Rennes 3-1, Fenerbache won 2-0 against Anderlecht, Sevilla beat Akhisar 3-2 away and Socceroo Danny Vukovic’s Genk drew 1-1 with Besiktas.
Chelsea's Italian midfielder Jorginho tries to slip BATE Borisov's Finnish striker Jasse Tuominen