Chelsea won 2-1 away at Rennes in the UEFA Champions League, as Frank Lampard’s side qualified for the last 16 with two group games to spare.
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Callum Hudson-Odoi gave them the perfect start with a fine finish, but Rennes fought back and Serhou Guirassy equalized late on.
Just when it looked like the Blues would miss the chance to reach the knockout stage, substitute Olivier Giroud headed home in stoppage time to seal the win and their spot in the last 16.
A job well done for Chelsea as Lampard got the chance to rest plenty of star players (Hakim Ziyech, N’Golo Kante, Kai Havertz and Reece James all came off the bench) and can now focus fully on the Premier League until February when the last 16 games begin.
The next test is to try and win the group and finish above Sevilla.
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3 things we learned
1. Hudson-Odoi proves his worth: The English winger has to battle with Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner for minutes and he’s doing his chances no harm whatsoever. Hudson-Odoi whipped in a great ball for Werner, who should have scored, then showed him how to do it moments later. After a nasty injury and losing his place in the team to Chrisitan Pulisic, we are getting to see the best of CHO once again. His recent form gives Lampard a massive selection headache.
2. Chilwell sloppy as Chelsea give up chances: The first 20 minutes set things up for a routine win but it was anything but that. Ben Chilwell had some sloppy passes and had a tough time defensively at left back, and that crept into the rest of the Chelsea defense. Thiago Silva was beaten in the air for the equalizer and Rennes were unlucky to not score a few more. Chelsea have to kill the game off early when they create chances galore and when they don’t they relax a little too much at the back and cause their own problems.
3. Werner struggling to finish, as Giroud shows him how: The German striker is scoring the more difficult chances and missing easier ones. He’s getting a lot of looks on goal for Chelsea but he blazed over early on from six yards out and missed a one-on-one late on which was saved, but then Giroud headed home the rebound. The veteran French striker showed him how it is done and despite all of his good play around the box and runs behind defenders, Werner is still lacking a clinical edge. He has Giroud and Tammy Abraham around him scoring goals, so maybe after the Tottenham game on Sunday is a good time for Lampard to take him out of the team and give him a slight rest?
Man of the Match: Mason Mount – Brilliant play for the first goal as he won the ball back, wriggled free and played in Hudson-Odoi. Is on auto-pilot right now and is playing superbly each time he steps on the pitch with tenacity and creativity.
Chelsea started well and should have been 1-0 up as Hudson-Odoi played in Timo Werner but he somehow skied his effort from six yards out with the goal gaping.
Hudson-Odoi soon gave Chelsea the lead as Mason Mount’s superb pass set his England international teammate free over the top and Hudson-Odoi took two touches to settle himself before slotting home.
Chelsea dominated early on as Mount was denied brilliantly by Rennes goalkeeper Alfred Gomis, but the hosts did have a few good chances as Kurt Zouma blocked a shot and then James Lia-Siliki blazed over. Before the break Ben Chilwell got away with a sloppy pass as Thiago Silva tided up just in the nick of time, then Edouard Mendy (playing against his former team) saved a header from Damien Da Silva.
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In the second half Chelsea had a goal disallowed as Werner was just offside as he headed home, while late on Rennes pushed hard for an equalizer to test Lampard’s defense.
And the French outfit found the leveller with less than five minutes to go.
From the right a corner was swung in and Guirassy powerfully headed home to make it 1-1, as he beat Thiago Silva in the air.
But Chelsea grabbed the win, and qualification to the last 16, in stoppage time as Werner’s shot was saved, the ball spun up into the air and Giroud powered home a wonderful finish with his meaty French forehead.https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js