Chelsea booked their place in Champions League round of 16 after defeating Rennes 2-1, courtesy of a late Olivier Giroud goal. Frank Lampard’s men remain top of the their group with 10 points with trips to Seville and Krasnodar still remaining. The defeat leave Rennes to battle it out with Krasnodar for the Europa League spot as the latter were defeated by Sevilla in stoppage time.
Chelsea, who have been in fine form should have had an early lead through Timo Werner after Callum Hudson-Odoi found the striker in the box. However, the German’s struggles in front of the goal continued as he blazed over from 2 yards out. Chelsea’s pressure paid off when Mason Mount dispossessed Doku and floated a perfectly weighed ball for Hudson-Odoi to slot past Gomis for the first goal.
Rennes were much better in the second half as they started the to dominate possession with Chelsea having to defend deep. Mendy was at his best to deny Nyamsi’s header from a corner as the goalkeeper clawed back the ball on the goal line from onrushing Nzonzi. Chelsea finally conceded a goal in Europe after Guirassy’s bullet header left Mendy with no chance as Rennes equalised in the 85th minute. The match seemed to be heading to a draw until Ziyech slipped Werner through on goal. The striker’s shot was blocked brilliantly by Gomis, but Giroud reacted fastest to head the ball into the net and win the game for Chelsea in stoppage time.
Speaking to BT Sport after the win Lampard said he was happy to qualify for round of 16 with two games to spare. The Chelsea manager praised Giroud, Hudson-Odoi and Mason Mount for their performances and said “I’m very happy to qualify with two games to spare. It was a really tough match, they’re a very good team. Their recent form doesn’t reflect how good they are, it was a tough hard-fought win. Giroud does things like he does tonight, he’s great. It wasn’t just his goal when he came on but his hold up play and physicality. I have a problem because Tammy is playing well and Olivier in the restart was incredible. I have two players fighting for the position, but it’s a good problem. He’ll get his minutes because of the amount of games. You saw the reaction to his goal, and that wasn’t just because it was a late winner, it shows what he does day to day and what he means to the team“
I knew he’d had a couple of good performances last week for the under-21s and I know he wants more minutes. It’s not cut and dry, he’s still developing and he came off the back of a really bad injury. There’s loads of great things about Callum and things he can improve. He’s a big player for Chelsea and got a big future for Chelsea. His all-round performance was great tonight.
With Mason there’s been a lot of talk and any negative talk just needs to go away. I’ve been lucky enough to be closer to him and what he did at Derby and last season has been outstanding. I’m not going to undermine the quality he has and when we have two number eights he’s got all the qualities. I think he can get more goals and assists. The pass for Callum Hudson-Odoi’s goal was top class. You saw Kai coming on too, we need to keep that competition. I actually don’t speak to him too much. We have a good relationship, not as close as some think. He knows I’m here if he needs any guidance. But it’s the social media world, in the modern day world we all have opinions and want different things from players. It should only be what I think, the players think and proper Chelsea fans think of him. The conversation just needs to move on, there’s nothing to make of it.”