Chelsea 3-0 Rennes: VAR steals the show as Chelsea beat ten men Rennes
Timo Werner of Chelsea places the ball on the penalty spot as Rennes players argue with referee Felix Zwayer during the UEFA Champions League Group E stage match between Chelsea FC and Stade Rennais at Stamford Bridge on November 4, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Getty Images)

Chelsea remain unbeaten in the Champions League after their 3-0 victory over French side Rennes at Stamford Bridge.

Two first half penalties from Timo Werner and a strike from Tammy Abraham at the start of the second half were enough to give the home side all three points in spite of a valiant performance from the opposition.

It was also a controversial night at Stamford Bridge as, much is often the case in the modern game, VAR was a major talking point due to the awarding of Chelsea's second penalty and subsequent second yellow card for Rennes left back Dalbert.

All in all it was a good night for Frank Lampard's team, recording their third victory in a row, scoring ten goals in total in the process, and recording their fifth successive clean sheet.

Story of the Match

Chelsea made just one enforced change to their line-up which beat Burnley 3-0 on Saturday, as Kai Havertz was forced to self-isolate following a positive COVID-19 test prior to the match. He was replaced by Jorginho in the team, and the Italian was handed the captain's armband for the fixture.

Rennes made two changes from their 2-1 victory against Stade Brestois on Saturday as wingers Romain Del Castillo and Jeremy Doku were replaced by Yann Gobho and Benjamin Bourigeaud.

The first chance of the match fell to the home side after just 7 minutes, as Moroccan Hakim Ziyech saw his looping shot go just over the crossbar. Then just a minute later, a good move between Ziyech and Ben Chilwell set up Timo Werner, who had his trailing leg swooped at by Dalbert, and Chelsea were awarded a penalty, with Dalbert shown a yellow card for his troubles. Werner, fresh off his penalty that he scored last week against Krasnodar, stepped up and fired past the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Alfred Gomis to give Chelsea an early lead.

Rennes then had their closest effort of the first half, as Benjamin Bourigeaud saw his free kick go just wide of Edouard Mendy's goal.

A few minutes later, however, Chelsea had a golden chance to double their lead, albeit in controversial circumstances. An advantage played by the referee following a foul on Mason Mount, the ball eventually fell to Tammy Abraham who's shot fired up against Dalbert before striking the Brazilian on the arm.

While the play was stopped to check on the state of Mount's fitness, a VAR check saw the referee go over to his monitor and, after a fair few replays, he decided to award Chelsea another penalty and give Dalbert his marching orders for a second bookable offence. Timo Werner stepped up again and went high into the roof of the net, giving Gomis no chance, and give Chelsea a two goal cushion going into the break.

Coming out for the second half, Chelsea looked a class above the rest, and Hakim Ziyech was left unmarked early on in the half, only to blaze his effort over the crossbar. However, it was not long before Chelsea made it three, as Reece James' cross found Tammy Abraham, who buried his first Champions League goal of the season. And it was Reece James who looked to be the major attacking threat for Chelsea, and almost set up Timo Werner for his hattrick if it was not for a brilliant recovery challenge from Damien Da Silva.

Both teams took advantage of the UEFA ruling of having five available substitutions as both clearly had an eye on retaining the fitness of key players ahead of their domestic league clashes coming up this weekend. One final chance for Chelsea came in the last minute, as Olivier Giroud glanced a header from Callum Hudson-Odoi's cross narrowly wide.

Main Takeaways

  • Abraham Taking his Chance: After Lampard's recent preference of the 433 formation, it has given the opportunity to striker Tammy Abraham to retain the number nine shirt in the side. With Christian Pulisic and Kai Havertz unavailable, the last couple of games has given the Englishman the chance to shine from the start, and has delivered 2 assists, as well as a goal tonight, in his past three games. While Lampard has plenty of options for the front three places, Abraham is finally starting to show that he is deserving of a starring role.
  • Rennes Lacking Creativity: One thing that was apparent from the match was that Rennes are still very inexperienced in this competition, and it was a lack of creativity more than anything else that let them down. Without star man Eduardo Camavinga, they struggled to break Chelsea down, despite looking pretty strong in the first half. The red card to Dalbert clearly left a dampener on proceedings for Rennes as they were more passive in the second half. Their focus will likely be on trying to qualify for the Europa League through third place in the group.
  • VAR is Still Farcical: The decision that ultimately killed the game was the one to give Chelsea an unexpected second penalty towards the end of the first half. An enforcement of the bizarre handball rules that are used in the UEFA competitions, it was incredibly apparent to anyone that has played football before that it was completely accidental as the ball ricocheted off Dalbert's leg onto his arm, and should not have been a penalty. It is harsh on Rennes as they made a good account of themselves, and killed what would have otherwise been a very open and end to end game.