Fought hard for 3 points!
Chelsea took on Rennes in France on Tuesday night for MD 4 of the Champions League group stage and came away with 3 points and became the 1st team to reach the Round of 16. It was a hard fought game with Rennes needing to win to stand any realistic chance of making the Round of 16. Lampard selected a strong XI with Mendy in goal, Azpilicueta came in for Reece James while Silva also returned to the lineup alongside Zouma and Chilwell. Jorginho replaced Kante while Kovacic and Mount continued as the 8’s. Hudson-Odoi replaced Ziyech while Tammy and Werner continued up front.
Chelsea were on the front foot from minute one and had a great chance to get an early lead as Hudson-Odoi played a brilliant ball across the box but Timo couldn’t connect properly and he skied it. Chelsea’s dominance continued and it payed off in the 22nd minute as Mount did well to make a tackle and found Hudson-Odoi making a run with a brilliant pass. Hudson-Odoi was able to latch on and slot it past Gomis to make it 0-1. The final 15 minutes of the half saw Rennes grow into the game and they had several chances of their own but Chelsea’s defence stayed strong to hold on to the lead.
Rennes started the 2nd half as the better team as it was mostly attack against defence for much of the half. Rennes came close with some good chances but Mendy was more than up for the task and made some crucial saves. Rennes finally got lucky with their 8th corner of the night as Guirassy was able to power a header past Mendy in the 85th minute to equalise for Rennes. It looked like Rennes would be able to manage the point but Chelsea had other ideas in mind. Chilwell had already gone close from a Ziyech free kick, and the magician was crucial for the winner as he dribbled past some Rennes players to lay the ball off for Werner who’s shot was saved by Gomis but the ricochet fell to Giroud who blasted in a header in the 91st minute to snatch the 3 points for the Blues. Rennes felt hard done by the result but Chelsea’s willingness to fight until the final minutes was another sign of the positive direction Chelsea are heading in.
No clean sheet for Mendy today but he was crucial in keeping Chelsea in the game. Edou made some key saves and made sure that Rennes chances were kept out of the net. Mendy’s goal kicks were slightly off during the game as several failed to find a target but other than that it was another solid outing for the goalkeeper.
The first 25-30 minutes saw a solid defensive shift from Chelsea but the final 15 of the first half saw some poor passing and play from the likes of Chilwell and some miscommunication from Silva. The 2nd half saw a better performance and the defence worked well to snuff out danger. No clean sheet but a good team performance none the less.
The midfield was off balance today with Kante on the bench. Jorginho lacked the mobility to get around the midfield that someone like Kante offered and it meant that the likes of Kovacic and Mount had to do more defensive work. Mount was standout though and his assist for Callum’s goal was a very good pass indeed. Kante coming on in the 2nd half changed the momentum of the midfield and Havertz also allowed more mobility in the final 3rd. A good outing.
The forwards had a mixed bag of performances. Werner had another game in which his decision making in the final 3rd seemed off. Don’t know what the problem is exactly but mental fatigue could be a case and maybe he just needs a rest. Tammy didn’t have much to do during the game but he linked play well when he could. Hudson-Odoi was lively and produced a good finish for his goal as he put in another positive performance in Lampard’s books. Ziyech came on for Callum in the 2nd half and changed the game as he created the most chances of any players in the early kick offs having only played 15 minutes. Ziyech was also crucial in the winner. Giroud came on for Tammy as well and the Frenchman’s rocket header was the winner as he continues to show professionalism.
Another win in the bag for Lampard as he seals progression to the Round of 16. The next step for Chelsea will be to finish top fo the group and put ourselves in a good position for the draws. The subs changed the game and Frank was able to get some rest for key players.
Round of 16 sealed and now only the top spot left as we head to Spain next week to play Sevilla who also qualified last night. For Chelsea the next game is a visit from a certain Jose Mourinho and Tottenham Hotspurs on Sunday. Come on Chelsea!!!