Chelsea win late in France as Olivier Giroud returns home to seal qualification


No wonder Frank Lampard doesn’t want to lose Olivier Giroud. Giroud, 34, once again showed perfect timing by proposing the winner in the 91st minute to seal Chelsea’s place in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Incredibly, Giroud has scored 12 goals in Europe for Chelsea since 2018 which is more than any other player during that time to show he is worth his weight in gold.

But it also seemed like it was written in the stars because Giroud had been making noises about the need to play more, feeling frustrated and wanted to move in January if that meant making a place for himself in the France squad for the euros. next summer.

It was he who was proving his point as there can’t be many better options on the bench than Giroud and yet the former Arsenal striker isn’t happy to be a full player, that is why he moved to Chelsea in the first place.

Olivier Giroud returned to the winner

Giroud has proven his quality, is brilliant in the air and is such a great character and an example to have in the team around Lampard’s raft of young players.

Chelsea were a bit sloppy, they let a first half lead slip away after Callum Hudson-Odoi also grabbed a big opportunity in a European game and headed for victory.

In fact, they were so comfortable they almost got too comfortable and allowed Rennes to come back into the game with just the second goal they conceded in eight games.

But they would have kicked themselves if they hadn’t won the game because everything was there for them and it was almost like Chelsea were making rolling substitutes that upset their balance and pace.

However, Giroud’s introduction was the one that really mattered because nothing can beat his experience, even in the midst of so much competition with Timo Werner and Tammy Abraham.

Callum Hudson-Odoi opened the scoring in the first half

As the clock ticked and the match headed for a draw, substitute Hakim Ziyech led the attack, found Werner who was refused by Rennes goalkeeper Alfred Gomis and the ball flew away.

Giroud then showed his class by jumping, met the ball perfectly with a shining header to propel Chelsea to victory and also in the last 16.

This again underlines the progress Lampard is making at Chelsea this season, they are now undefeated in 13 games, they are real title challengers and the young players are developing rapidly as well.

Mason Mount was exceptional and had a role in Chelsea’s opener, but Hudson-Odoi also stepped up and, having been frustrated himself, delivered his own message to Lampard.

Werner had missed a goalkeeper after four minutes but the reprieve did not last long as Chelsea took the lead after 22 minutes. Lampard had chosen Mount for his pressing and it was this quality that won him the ball in midfield.

Sehrou Guirassy equalized for Rennes

Mount then spun around, looked up, and sprayed a beautiful diagonal pass to put Hudson-Odoi in his path. Hudson-Odoi sprinted, the Chelsea winger kept his cool and his head held high before moving past Gomis for a perfect and mature finish.

Chelsea had chances to go further as Mount was denied by a great save from Gomis.

But from there Chelsea went out and allowed Rennes to get back into the game and it was just a few smart saves from Edouard Mendy on his first return to his former club and also brilliant defender of Kurt Zouma and Thiago Silva.

No wonder they’ve become so hard to beat. But just when it seemed like time was ticking, Benjamin Bourigeaud made a turn in the 85th minute and, completely out of character, Chelsea’s defense slipped out and gave Serhou Guirassy a free head.

The chance to reserve their place in the playoffs seemed over. But Giroud struck, as he always does in Europe, to prove how invaluable he is to Chelsea.

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