Chelsea win late on in France as Giroud heads home to seal qualification

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No wonder Frank Lampard does not want to lose Olivier Giroud.

Giroud, 34, showed perfect timing yet again as he came up with the 91st minute winner to seal Chelsea ’s place in the Champions League knock-out stages.

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 needing to play more, getting frustrated and wanting to move in January if it means getting a place in the France squad for next summer’s Euros.

This was him proving his point because there cannot be many better options from the bench than Giroud and yet the ex-Arsenal striker is not happy with being a bit-part player which is why he moved to Chelsea in the first place.

Olivier Giroud headed home the winner

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

Chelsea were a bit sloppy, they let a first half lead slip after Callum Hudson-Odoi also seized a big opportunity in a European game and were cruising to victory.

In fact, they were so comfortable, they almost became too comfortable and allowed Rennes back into the game with only the second goal they have conceded in eight games.

But they would have kicked themselves had they not won the game because it was all there for them and it almost felt like Chelsea were making rolling substitutes which did disrupt their balance and rhythm.

However, Giroud’s introduction was the one which really counted because nothing can beat his experience even amid so much competition with the likes of Timo Werner and Tammy Abraham.

Callum Hudson-Odoi opened the scoring in the first-half

With the clock ticking down and the game heading to a draw, substitute Hakim Ziyech led the attack, found Werner who was denied by Rennes keeper Alfred Gomis and the ball span up in the air.

Giroud then showed his class as he leapt, met the ball perfectly with a brilliant header to power Chelsea to victory and also into the last 16.

It again underlines the progress that Lampard is making at Chelsea this season, they are now unbeaten in 13 games, they are genuine title challengers and young players are also developing quickly.

Mason Mount has been outstanding and played a part in Chelsea’s opener but Hudson-Odoi also stepped up and, having been frustrated himself, he delivered his own message to Lampard.

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

Sehrou Guirassy had equalised for Rennes

Mount then span round, looked up and sprayed a wonderful diagonal pass to set Hudson-Odoi on his way. Hudson-Odoi sprinted away, the Chelsea winger kept his composure and head up before slotting past Gomis for a perfect, mature finish.

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

But from there, Chelsea switched off and allowed Rennes back into the contest and it was only some smart saves from Edouard Mendy on his first return to his old club and also brilliant defending by Kurt Zouma and Thiago Silva.

No wonder they have become so hard to beat. But just when it seemed the clock was ticking down, Benjamin Bourigeaud swung over an 85th minute corner and, completely out of character, the Chelsea defence switched off and allowed Serhou Guirassy a free header.

The chance to book their place in the knock-out stages looked gone. But then Giroud struck, as he always does in Europe, to prove what a priceless asset he is for Chelsea.

How far will Chelsea go in the Champions League? Have your say here .

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