Chelsea are through to the knockout stages of the Europa League with a goal from striker Olivier Giroud securing a 1-0 win over BATE Borisov on Thursday.
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. After seeing his striker break his barren run, boss Sarri said: “I’m pleased for him (Giroud).
“And so for his confidence I think it’s very important. But, I don’t want him to be worried about scoring, because for us he’s very important, very useful.”