Giroud scores a delicious flick as Chelsea beat Malmo

Olivier Giroud scored an exquisite flick as Chelsea beat Malmo 2-1 in Sweden
Olivier Giroud scored an exquisite flick as Chelsea beat Malmo 2-1 in Sweden

Chelsea claimed a narrow 2-1 victory over Malmo in the Europa League after they were greeted with a rousing atmosphere in Sweden for the first leg of their last 32 tie.

Ross Barkley poked in a curling cross from Pedro to score in the first half.

Olivier Giroud flicked in the second after Willian cut the ball back having beaten his opponent in the box.

Malmo ensured it was a nervy ending for Chelsea as Anders Christiansen slotted home in the 80th minute.

Victory eases the pressure slightly on manager Maurizio Sarri who said his “job was at risk” after Chelsea were thrashed 6-0 by Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday.

Chelsea remain unbeaten in the Europa League this season before the second leg at Stamford Bridge on 21 February.

Relief for under-pressure Sarri

Sarri looked dejected on the sidelines as he watched Chelsea suffer their worst defeat in 28 years at Etihad Stadium.

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It was their fourth loss in 10 games and meant they dropped down to sixth place in the Premier League – 15 points behind leaders Manchester City.

Victory was needed against a Malmo side who have qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League for the first time.

There were signs of nervousness from Chelsea at the start of the match, Malmo winning two corners within the first minute and having a shot blocked by Jorginho in the box.

But the Blues became more comfortable as the game went on and when Giroud coolly doubled Chelsea’s lead to score his fifth goal in the competition this season, Sarri could be forgiven for breathing a sigh of relief.

Chelsea made hard work of it in the end, though. Malmo threatened to equalise in stoppage time but as Sarri had stated before kick-off, his side “need targets in the short term” and victory of any kind was just that.

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