Chelsea manager Frank Lampard heaped praise on veteran forward Olivier Giroud who came off the bench to net a last-gasp winner to their spot in the UEFA Champions League last 16.
Giroud headed home in stoppage time to earn Chelsea a hard-fought 2-1 win away to Stade Rennes, who had leveled in the 85th from Sehrou Guirassy’s header.
The France international showed determination and finesse to win a header after Timo Werner’s initial shot had been saved, with Giroud’s effort unable to be stopped on the line and sealing a significant three points.
The Blues, along with Sevilla won 2-1 at Krasnodar in similar fashion, have now an unassailable lead at the summit and both will progress.
Lampard was delighted to go through but reserved special praise for Giroud, who is behind Werner and Tammy Abraham in the pecking order, but always delivers as a substitute.
“That was great from him. Not only that but his hold-up play when he came on, his physicality,” Lampard said.
“I have selection issues because I have Tammy who is playing well, and Oli who always contributes in that way with that professionalism and was incredible in Restart. It’s a good problem.
“Oli will get his minutes, he will start matches because we have a busy schedule. You saw such a reaction around the goal not only because it was a last-minute winner but because it was Oli, who acts like he does every day. It shows what he means to this team.”
Juve, along with Barcelona, are both through to the last 16, with the Catalans emphatically winning 4-0 at Dynamo Kiev with Martin Brathwaite netting a brace.
Manchester United defeated Istanbul Basaksehir 4-1 after their shock loss in Turkey, while Paris Saint Germain moved into second spot in that group with a 1-0 win over RB Leipzig.
Borussia Dortmund moved closer to qualification as Erling Haaland hit a double, making six goals this week, in a 3-0 win over Club Brugge, while Lazio beat Zenit 3-1.