Giroud seals Chelsea’s progress as Arse­nal suf­fer Wel­beck blow

Western Morning News - - Football - BY MATT MCGEEHAN

Olivier Giroud scored his first Chelsea goal in 794 min­utes as the Blues pro­gressed to the UEFA Europa League knock-out stages with a 1-0 win at BATE Borisov yes­ter­day.

Chelsea’s fourth win from as many Group L games – three of them by a 1-0 mar­gin – was played out in freez­ing fog and mem­o­rable only for France World Cup win­ner Giroud’s first goal for the club since May’s win over Liver­pool.

BATE, who were com­fort­ably beaten last month in Lon­don, struck the wood­work three times and Eden Haz­ard’s ser­vices were re­quired for longer than an­tic­i­pated in Be­larus.

Seven changes were made to the side which beat Crys­tal Palace 3-1 last Sun­day , with Haz­ard start­ing for the first time since the draw with Manch­ester United on Oc­to­ber 20.

The Blues’ head coach, Mau­r­izio Sarri, left David Luiz, An­to­nio Rudi­ger, Mar­cos Alonso and in-form striker Al­varo Mo­rata at home, with one eye on Ever­ton this Sun­day, and said Haz­ard would fea­ture for 45 or 50 min­utes.

Chelsea were 2-0 up af­ter eight min­utes two weeks ago, but BATE were a dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion at home.

The hosts came close to tak­ing the lead on more than oc­ca­sion be­fore the visi­tors pounced in the 53rd minute.

Jorginho fed left-back Emer­son Palmieri, who found his man with the cross. Giroud’s down­ward header at the near post had enough power to beat De­nis Scher­bit­ski, but the goal­keeper should have done bet­ter.

Chelsea were re­lieved to stand firm af­ter the break­through as they 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.

Arse­nal also qual­i­fied for the knock­out stages of the Europa League with a 0-0 draw at home to ten-man Sport­ing Lis­bon last night in a game which was over­shad­owed by a po­ten­tially se­ri­ous an­kle in­jury to Eng­land for­ward Danny Wel­beck.

A vic­tory for Qarabag against Vorskla Poltava in Ukraine meant the stale­mate was enough to se­cure the Gun­ners’ progress from Group E.

The Por­tuguese visi­tors had Jeremy Mathieu sent off late on for scyth­ing down Pierre-Em­er­ick Aubameyang as the striker burst through on goal, but it was Wel­beck’s in­jury just be­fore the half-hour mark that was the main talk­ing point from a largely for­get­table Emi­rates Sta­dium en­counter.

The 27-year-old has over­come se­ri­ous is­sues in the past, miss­ing large chunks of his ca­reer with knee prob­lems. This lat­est set­back came on the day he was named in Gareth South­gate’s lat­est Eng­land squad for the forth­com­ing games against the United States and Croa­tia. He was car­ried off the pitch fol­low­ing an awk­ward land­ing, af­ter he had beaten Sport­ing de­fender Bruno Gas­par to a header, and it was clear he was in need of help.

Olivier Giroud last nightKIR­ILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP

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