Giroud Scores Hat-trick in Thumping Chelsea Win
The France forward’s early effort from Willian’s corner set the tone for the Blues, who arrived in Kiev with a commanding 3-0 lead from the first leg.
Giroud swept in his second of the night from Marcos Alonso’s sublime cross to register his eighth goal in the competition this season.
With the visitors in total control, Alonso tapped in a third goal from Callum Hudson-Odoi’s cross before the break.
Kiev captain Serhiy Sydorchuk went close to a consolation for the hosts in the second period, hitting the post from close range.
Chelsea will discover their quarter-final and potential semi-final opponents on Friday at 12:00 GMT.
Giroud’s perfect night
Since his last domestic goal against Tottenham on 24 November 2018, the 32-year-old has scored eight goals in seven appearances in Europe.
And another clinical performance ensured he left the Olympic Stadium in Kiev as the Europa League’s top scorer with nine goals.
One-touch finishes for his first two goals of the evening demonstrated his prowess from close range, giving home goalkeeper Denys Boyko no chance.
Alertness and anticipation allowed him to steer Willian’s corner past the Kiev keeper for his first goal from around six yards out.
And his movement created the space for him to connect powerfully with Alonso’s cross to thump in a second from the centre of the hosts’ penalty area.
His final effort, a header from another Willian corner, also highlighted his aerial threat as he capitalised on shoddy marking to seal a “perfect” hat-trick, comprising of right-foot, left-foot and headed goals.
Europa League favourites?
Maurizio Sarri won plaudits for his style of play at former club Napoli but despite his impressive reputation, he has yet to win a trophy as a manager.
Despite naming a team that contained seven changes from their 1-1 draw against Wolves, there was a fluidity about Sarri’s side as they quickly stamped their authority on the contest.
Giroud’s early goal undoubtedly helped but their list of absentees, which included Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain and Eden Hazard, made this all the more impressive.
And the emphatic nature of the result will also serve as a warning to the other clubs in the quarter-finals.
Still unbeaten in the competition, Sarri’s side had started the evening as the bookmakers’ favourites and by full-time the odds on them repeating their 2012-13 success had shortened further.
‘We played a wonderful first half’ – what they said
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri: “We started very well. We wanted to start in this way.
“We scored after five minutes which was a very difficult situation for the opponents. We played a wonderful first half and managed the game in the second half.”
On Ruben Loftus-Cheek he said: “He did very well. He is improving in the last month. He has been able to train after the problem with the back. He had a wonderful match and I’m really happy he could play for 90 minutes.
“His potential as a player is very, very high. Physically, technically and tactically he is improving, he can become one of the best midfielders not only in England but in Europe.”
Chelsea resume their Premier League duties when they travel to Everton on Sunday 17 March (16:30 GMT).