Champions League

Post-Match Analysis: Rennes 1-2 Chelsea, Giroud’s late winner guides to the knockout stages

Stade Rennais hosted the Champions League fourth round group stage match against Chelsea at the Roazhon Park on Tuesday night. West London giants defeated the French side by 1-2 and also secured qualification to the next round with 2 games remaining.

Chelsea came into the game with a great victory against Newcastle United last Saturday and they were unbeaten in the group stage of the Champions League so far. The Blues were 9 games undefeated run in all competitions before this match since they lost to Tottenham Hotspur in the EFL Cup in penalties.

Rennes coming into the game with a very poor form, they won only one in their last 8 matches and they lost to Bordeaux last weekend. Also managed to score only one point so far in the group stages of the Champions League.

Team News: Rennes vs Chelsea

Frank Lampard used his preferred formation 4-3-3, with four changes from their triumph against Newcastle. Callum Hudson-Odoi came in for Hakim Ziyech who was rested, in midfield N’Golo Kantè was replaced by Jorginho.

In defence, as expected, Thiago Silva returned to the heart of the defence for Antonio Rüdiger. Kai Havertz was starting on the bench after recovering from Covid-19.

Rennes started the game with a 4-3-3 formation like Chelsea and the French wonder-kid Eduardo Camavinga started in the midfield alongside former Sevilla man Steven N’Zonzi.

Chelsea Xl: Mendy, Azpilicueta, Zouma Silva, Chilwell, Jorginho, Kovacic, Mount, Werner, Abraham, Hudson Odoi

Rennes Xl: Gomis, Traore, Da Silva, Nyamsi, Truffert, Camavinga, N’Zonzi, Bourigeaud, Doku, Guirassi, Lea Siliki

Match Report:

Chelsea started the game like they left off at Newcastle, Werner missed a glorious opportunity on the 4th minute’s mark, a great cross from Hudson-Odoi, Werner could not keep it into the target. On the 22nd minute of the game, a great over the top ball from Mason Mount through the defensive line picked up by Hudson-Odoi and he made no mistake to score.

Mount himself went close to doubling Chelsea’s lead on the half-hour mark, connecting with Ben Chilwell’s low cross, but Rennes goalkeeper Alfred Gomis made a superb save.

Chelsea had been dominant for the first 30 minutes, but they were fortunate to hold on to their lead before the break.

James Lea Siliki skied a wonderful chance over the bar after a Benjamin Bourigeaud shot had hit Kurt Zouma and then Mendy was forced to make his first save from Guirassy.

Chilwell switched off to gift Guirassy possession with a terrible misplaced pass, but Thiago Silva got back to cut out the striker’s intended pass and Mendy saved a Damien Da Silva header.

Werner headed a César Azpilicueta cross into the net shortly after the restart, but the striker was correctly judged to have been offside.

Mendy did well to stop a Guirassy effort from a tight angle, but it was from the resulting corner that Chelsea’s £20 million signing made his best stop. He did brilliantly get down to Steven Nzonzi’s header and then miraculously stuck out a leg to flick the loose ball back into his hands.

Rennes finally found a way past Mendy with five minutes remaining, as Silva lost Guirassy at a corner and the striker headed the ball into the net, but Giroud was to have the final say.

Hakim Ziyech, who had been sent on six minutes after Giroud, found Werner, and the striker’s effort was saved by Gomis. But the ball looped into the air and Giroud made sure that nobody was going to stop him heading it back into the net from eight yards. His goal was the final moment of this exciting fixture which ended in 1-2 for the English giants.

Notable Performances:

Mendy (8/10): Impressive performance yet again from the former Rennes man against his old club. Chelsea has spent a huge amount of money last summer but the £20 million man is their best signing.

Mount (8/10): Assisted for the first goal and could have scored himself. Excellent in midfield and he created quite a lot of chances.

Hudson-Odoi (8/10): He was given a chance and he did excellently scored a goal and should have been an assist as well. He was the man of the match.

Lampard’s reaction:

“I’m very happy to qualify with two games to spare. It was a really tough match for us tonight, Rennes are a very good team. We played well for big spells of the game. It was a tough, hard-fought win.”

“He(Giroud) does things like he did tonight. That was great from him… Not only that but his hold-up play as well. [With Giroud and Abraham] I have two players in a similar position who are playing well, that is a good problem to have. But Oli will get his minutes.”

– Lampard said after the match

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