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  • By Paul Lagan

Giroud strikes at last for Blues as they beat BATE 1-0 in Belarus

Borisov Arena. Photo Dan Levene @danlevene

BATE Borisov v Chelsea. Photo by Dan Levene @danlevene

Olivier Giroud scored his first goal under Maurizio Sarri as the Blues unconvincingly defeated BATE Borisov 1-0 away in Belarus this evening.

Chelsea top Europa League group L after their fourth win on the spin to qualify for the knockout stage last 32 with two matches to spare, a point will confirm them as winners of the group.

BATE can count themselves unfortunate not to share the spoils and, arguably having smacked the Chelsea woodwork three times, taken all three points.

Giroud’s near-post headed goal on 52 minutes from an Emerson cross was the World Cup winner’s first goal of the season.

Sarri said: “We didn't play very well. I didn't like the first half because we moved the ball only slowly. It was very difficult to be dangerous. It was better in the first 25 minutes of the second half.

“The best thing this evening was the result.”

He said the conditions here didn’t help Chelsea, and says it was a bad pitch.

Of his goalscorer, he said: “I am pleased for Giroud. He is a very important player for us, because he is very useful player for the team. But I know very well strikers want to score.”

Chelsea return home tonight and play Everton, at the Bridge on Sunday afternoon in the Premier League. Kick-off 2.30pm.

They could go top of the league, albeit for a couple of hours as leaders Manchester City, two points ahead of the Londoners, face rivals United with a 4.30pm kick-off.

Chelsea : Arrizabalaga, Zappacosta, Cahill, Christensen, Emerson, Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, Barkley, Pedro, Giroud, Hazard.

Subs: kante, Caballero, Kovacic, Hudson-Odoi, Willian, Azpilicueta, Ampadu

Referee: Mikola Dabanovic

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