Chelsea sealed their progress to the knockout stage of the Champions League with two games to lose as late header from Olivier Giroud took victory in Rennes

The French striker has only played 127 minutes for the Blues so far this season, but made the most of his time on the pitch here with added time after Timo Werner’s effort was blocked

Barely six minutes earlier, Rennes seemed to have refused Chelsea when Serhou Guirassy came in from a corner to cancel Callum Hudson-Odoi’s opener

Frank Lampard’s side dominated the first half and could easily have led by more than just Hudson-Odoi’s calm finish after being clearly sent off by a precise pass from Mason Mount

They invited the home side in the second half and had to rely on a defense that included returning Thiago Silva and goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, who made some good saves against his former club

A late winner for Sevilla means they and the Blues have 10 points in Group E, nine more than Rennes and Krasnodar

Lampard spoke ahead of Tuesday’s game of the need for Chelsea to do their Champions League business early, and will be delighted with the result

The fact that Chelsea can now rest the players for the last two group matches, which take place during a relentless December with difficult matches, is almost as important as qualifying

Their remaining matches – against Sevilla and Krasnodar – lie between the league games against Tottenham, Leeds and Everton in eight games in one month

They’ll want to take the shock in Spain more seriously, with Julen Lopetegui’s side equaling the Blues in a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge and their only rivals for first place, which in theory brings a Easier tie in the last 16

They will be full of confidence, however, having won six matches on the spin since following that Sevilla standoff with another at Manchester United in late October

Tuesday’s win might have been a little less stressful for them if they had completed the other two clear chances that ran aground during their early dominance

However, on either side of Hudson-Odoi’s goal, Werner somehow found a way to land a shot six yards above the bar and Mount saw an effort pushed wide by local goalkeeper Alfred. Gomis

Rennes deserved the leveler when they came to the end of an effortless but so often humane second-half display in front of goal It’s clear to see why they went scoreless for more than five hours before the head of Guirassy

But Chelsea recovered to take the points thanks to the always reliable Giroud, who was sent off by Lampard in the 69th minute and rewarded his boss in the 91st with his 30th goal for the club

Goal! Rennes 1, Chelsea 2 Olivier Giroud (Chelsea) header from the center of the box to the top left corner

Attempt recorded Timo Werner (Chelsea) with right foot shot from the center of the box is recorded in the center of the goal Assisted by Hakim Ziyech

Attempt recorded Ben Chilwell (Chelsea) with a header from the center of the box is recorded in the center of the goal Assisted by Hakim Ziyech

Goal! Rennes 1, Chelsea 1 Serhou Guirassy (Rennes) header from the center of the box to the top center of the goal Assisted by Benjamin Bourigeaud from a center after a corner

Get the latest scores and titles straight to your phone, sign up for our newsletter and find out where to find us online

How to get started in football – the world’s most popular sport, with clubs and facilities all over the UK

Rennes vs Chelsea

World news – UA – Chelsea seals early qualification for the last 16