Chelsea started with plenty of vim and vigor, and quickly won a penalty when Timo Werner was tripped by Dalbert in the penalty area. Werner himself took the kick (despite Jorginho being on the pitch), and powered it past the goalkeeper, who did get a hand to it.
The early goal however worked almost to our detriment, as we seemed content to sit back and let the game come to us. That wasn’t necessarily a problem, but as Rennes upped their game, they controlled proceedings for decent stretches and often made it difficult for us to play out.
The finely balanced game was tilted completely in our favor in the 40th minute however, when Dalbert was adjudged to have blocked Tammy Abraham’s shot with a raised arm. The referee initially waved play on, but VAR intervened and asked for a review. After consulting the pitchside monitor, the referee changed his decision, awarding a penalty and giving Dalbert a yellow in the process — his second, and thus a red card.
Werner left no doubt from the spot this time.
The second half played out as one would expect against 10 men, with Chelsea firmly in control. Any doubt about the outcome was quickly put to bed when Abraham scored just six minutes after the restart.
- Just one change from the weekend, possibly enforced by Havertz’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis. Jorginho comes in, pushing Kante further forward in the still three-man midfield.
- Like-for-like changes in Giroud (for Abraham), Kovacic (for Kante), Emerson (for Chilwell), Rudiger (for Silva), and
- The double jeopardy on Dalbert, thanks to today’s ridiculous handball rules, was certainly harsh, but Chelsea were good value for the win even before then.
- Seven points from the first three games is very good, level with Sevilla, who came from behind with ten man to beat Krasnodar, 3-2 at home. Krasnodar and Rennes both have just 1 point.
- Ten in a row unbeaten (save for a penalty shootout). Five clean sheets in a row in all competitions.
- Plenty to smile about for Lampard, who’s kept his semi-casual look going (slacks with a nice top and jacket). Looks like we’ve ditched the track suit for good, which is good.
- Next up: Sheffield United at home on Saturday; then the last international break of the calendar year.