When quizzed about Olivier Giroud’s future on Monday, Frank Lampard replied: ‘I still think he’s got a big contribution for us.’
The Chelsea manager obviously knew something the rest of us didn’t.
Lampard was responding to assertions from Mickael Manuello, the France striker’s agent, who had indicated his client will look to leave in January due to a lack of game time.
Olivier Giroud celebrates his late header that ensured Chelsea grabbed a stoppage time 2-1 win in Rennes
Giroud leaps above a defender to nod home a loose ball and book Chelsea’s spot in the last-16 of the Champions League
The striker (right) celebrates along with left-back Ben Chilwell as Chelsea’s winning streak extended to six games
The Blues are now guaranteed a top-two finish with two games still to play in Group E following Giroud’s late goal
Fair play to Giroud, he let his football do the talking in Rennes on Tuesday.
Whether the France international is prepared to settle for a bit-part role at Stamford Bridge will come out in the wash.
What we do know, however, is Chelsea have qualified for the Champions League knockout stages courtesy of an injury time goal from their unsettled World Cup winner.
If you have a point to make, that’s how you make it.
‘That was great from him, I have a problem because I have Tammy [Abraham] who is playing very well and Oli, who always contributes. But it’s a good problem,’ Lampard said.
‘Yes, it does (show why I want him to stay.) Oli will get his minutes because we have a busy scheduled. He offers a lot for us.’
Chelsea stopper and former Rennes star Edouard Mendy (second right) consoles his former team-mates after the game
Callum Hudson-Odoi had opened the scoring for Chelsea in a first half largely controlled by Frank Lampard’s side
The forward (centre) celebrates his goal with team-mates and it looked like being the winning effort for much of the game
However the Blues were rocked late on when Serhou Guirassy powered home a header for Rennes from a corner kick
MATCH FACTS AND CURRENT STANDINGS
RENNES (4-3-3): Gomis 6; Traore 7, Silva 6, Nyamsi 6.5, Truffert 6.5 (Maouassa 86); Camavinga 6.5 (Grenier 78), Nzonzi 6.5, Bourigeaud 7; Doku 7 (Gboho 86), Guirassy 7.5 (Niang 86), Lea Siliki 6 (Del Castillo 63).
Subs not used: Salin, Niang, Tait, Hunou, Assignon, Soppy, Georginio Rutter, Omari.
Goal: Guirassy 85
Booked: Grenier, Bourigeaud
Manager: Stephan: 6.5
CHELSEA (4-3-2-1): Mendy 7; Azplicueta 6.5, Zouma 7, Silva 7, Chilwell 7; Jorginho 6.5, Kovacic 6.5 (Havertz 76); Hudson-Odoi 8 (Ziyech 75, 7), Mount 7.5 (Kante 68, 6.5), Werner 6.5 (James 90); Abraham 7 (Giroud 69, 7). Subs: Kepa, Caballero, Rudiger, Alonso, Christensen, Tomori, Havertz, Emerson.
Manager: Lampard: 7.5
Subs not used: Arrizabalaga, Rudiger, Alonso, Christensen, , Caballero, Tomori, Emerson Palmieri.
Goals: Hudson-Odoi 22, Giroud 90+1
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Hol) – 6
Man of the match: Hudson-Odoi
Chelsea have secured a top-two spot in Group E along with Sevilla
Mount played the assist for Hudson-Odoi – more on our Match Zone
In truth, Chelsea shouldn’t have required Giroud’s late intervention. The three point should have been wrapped up well before Serhou Guirassy appeared to have secured a point for Rennes with an 85th minute leveller.
But, as is becoming a habit for Chelsea just now, they found the answers. Six wins on the bounce and 13 games unbeaten bodes well for Lampard moving forward. Certainly with a London derby against Tottenham – and former boss Jose Mourinho – on the horizon.
It also augurs well that Lampard can, crucially, rest players in the final two Champions League group matches following last night’s qualification as they focus on sustaining their Premier League title challenge.
Chelsea started this win over Rennes like a team possessed. They should have taken a fourth minute lead, but Timo Werner somehow blazed Callum Hudson-Odoi’s inch-perfect low cross over the bar from six yards.
The breakthrough arrived in the 22nd minute. Hudson-Odoi ruthlessly dispatching Mason Mount’s raking pass past Alfred Gomis to fire Chelsea ahead.
Having dominated the first clash between these two sides earlier this month, this tie appeared to be heading in an identical direction.
Mendy could raise a hand in vain to keep out the effort which restored Rennes’ Champions League hopes momentarily
Guirassy celebrates with Rennes team-mates as they chased a needed win to keep their Champions League hopes alive
Giroud though would soon dash the hosts’ hopes after he came on in the second half to replace Tammy Abraham
Rennes were pinning their hopes on Eduardo Camavinga, who missed first leg, but – at least for the first 35 minutes – the France international’s influence was minimal.
Much of that was down to Chelsea’s dominance, Mount squandering another golden opportunity after being set-up Ben Chilwell.
However, Chelsea’s grip loosened somewhat during the closing stages of the first half as Rennes finally found the accelerator.
James Lea Siliki wasted a decent chance following Jeremy Doku’s cross before Guirassy forced Edouard Mendy – returning to the club he left in the summer – into a comfortable save five minutes before the break.
Rennes were finally showing themselves, indeed Lampard would have been happy to hear the half-time whistle when he did.
Not that Chelsea appeared to be in any danger of losing control, but more to quell the head of steam Rennes looked to be building.
Timo Werner endured a frustrating night in front of goal for Chelsea, seeing a header ruled out correctly for offside
The striker also wasted an excellent chance from close range to open the scoring in the opening minutes of the game
Frank Lampard encourages his side who now have now gone 13 games unbeaten excluding a shootout defeat at Tottenham
And so it turned out as Chelsea, like the first-half, came flying out of the blocks. Werner had the ball in the net in the 47th minute, but his header was rightly chalked off for offside.
But the longer Chelsea went without scoring a second the nervier it became. Hamari Traore saw his ferocious effort from the edge of the box defected wide by Thiago Silva before Guirassy lost his bearings when well positioned in Chelsea’s box.
The Chelsea boss was concerned enough to introduce experienced pair N’Golo Kante and Giroud to see out the game.
By this time Chelsea were leaning heavily on goalkeeper Mendy, who denied Guirassy and Gerzino Nyamsi with excellent stops.
But the threat to Chelsea’s goal continued and Rennes grabbed the equaliser their display probably deserved when Guirassy lost Silva’s attentions to powerfully head Benjamin Bourigeaud’s corner past Mendy as the Blues conceded their first Champions League goal of the season in the 85th minute.
However, the host’s joy was short lived as Giroud stole the show after Werner was denied by Gomis in the dying moments to ensure Chelsea continue to dine at European football’s top table.
RE-LIVE ALL THE ACTION AS IT HAPPENED…
Follow Sportsmail’s DAN RIPLEY who will provide live UCL coverage of Rennes vs Chelsea including score, lineups and build-up.