The Blues continued our excellent start to our Champions League campaign with a comfortable win over Rennes, helped by two Timo Werner first-half penalties.
The French visitors gave a good account of themselves in the first half, but were undone by two penalties conceded by Dalbert at the beginning and end of the first half.
The first was an obvious trip on Werner as he cut across the box and the German stepped up with Jorginho's blessing to take the spot kick himself, driving it into the bottom left corner.
As the first half approached its end Dalbert was again the guilty party, although this time it was less clear cut as the officials took their time consulting to award us a second penalty after Tammy Abraham's shot had deflected up and struck the defender's arm. Werner kept his nerve through that long wait to score again, though, this time smashing it high into the roof of the net. In a double blow, Dalbert was sent off after being booked when conceding both penalties.
We killed off the tie early in the second half, as Reece James found space on the right and Abraham was alert in the box to turn in the right-back's low cross from close range. That completed a 3-0 victory, going 10 games unbeaten in all competitions and keeping a fifth consecutive clean sheet for the first time in a decade.
Lampard made just one enforced change to the team which won at Burnley, as Jorginho returned to the side as captain in place of Kai Havertz following the latter's positive Covid-19 test. The Italian international anchored our midfield alongside N'Golo Kante and Mason Mount in a 4-3-3 formation.
The back five remained unchanged, meaning goalkeeper Edouard Mendy faced the club he left to join Chelsea this season. In attack, Tammy Abraham continued as the central striker for his first Champions League start of the campaign, flanked by Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, who both scored against Burnley.
Christian Pulisic remained unavailable due to the hamstring injury he suffered ahead of the weekend's game.
Our attempts to press high were evident right from the start as Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount caused some uncomfortable early moments for the Rennes defence and goalkeeper as they attempted to play out from the back.
The first meaningful attack came from the French side, though, as Ben Chilwell was forced to make a well-timed intervention to block a cross, and the referee waved away some half-hearted penalty appeals for handball against Kurt Zouma.
We went straight up the other end and came close to a wonderful opener as Hakim Ziyech brilliantly cushioned Jorginho’s driven pass before hitting a volley with the outside of his boot which looped just over the bar.
However, just moments later we were ahead, and it came from a penalty of our own which was awarded. Timo Werner’s first touch invited the challenge from Dalbert inside the box, but the German beat him to the ball and went to ground under the challenge.
Werner picked himself up and took the penalty himself, being handed the ball by Jorginho before striking it low into the bottom left corner with enough placement and power to beat Alfred Gomis, despite the goalkeeper going the right way and getting a fingertip to the ball, for his sixth goal of the season in all competitions.
Rennes keep fighting
We had the lead but Rennes didn’t let their heads drop and it wasn’t until around the 20-minute mark that we started to exert a real measure of control and the French side’s own high press was proving effective.
They were making things difficult for us at the other end too, as their tight defence left little space to exploit in the final third, showing that despite our early lead chances might be at a premium tonight.
The visitors were having the same problem, although striker Sehrou Guirassy was working hard to find a way forward for Rennes, causing concern when he met one dangerously deflected cross at the near post, but he couldn’t find the target from close range and the offside flag went up anyway.
The problems Rennes were starting to cause as we entered the last 15 minutes of the first half was evident in the yellow cards dished out to N’Golo Kante and Ziyech, and it was from the free-kick that resulted from the latter we had our next scare. Thankfully Benjamin Bourigeaud’s whipped set-piece from the left evaded everyone as it fizzed across goal and out for a goal kick.
In an evenly contested first half we were still mounting attacks of our own and Zouma did well to rise above everyone else to get his head on Ziyech’s corner, but couldn’t direct it on target in the same as he had to score against Burnley.
Double blow before the break
There was a real sucker punch for Rennes before half-time, though. After a counter-attack down the left Ziyech run at the defence and the ball broke to Abraham on the edge of the box. His low shot deflected up and struck the arm of Dalbert.
After a lengthy VAR review, the referee jogged over to check the pitchside monitor and decided the Brazilian’s arms were raised in an unnatural position and making his body bigger, which under Champions League rules meant Chelsea had a second penalty of the night.
The second yellow card which resulted in Dalbert’s sending off for giving away both penalties seemed harsh, but no-one in Chelsea blue was complaining as Werner confidently scored from the spot again, this time powering his shot into the roof of the net.
The Rennes players seemed understandably shellshocked following that blow, allowing us to play the ball around with ease for the last five minutes of the half, but there were no further chances and we went in at the break with what had turned out to be a comfortable two-goal lead.
Turning the screw
We came out for the second half looking to finish the game off quickly, attacking with pace, and it nearly paid off straight away when Jorginho’s excellent first-time pass played Abraham in behind the Rennes defence, but Gomis came out to block his effort well before the offside flag was raised.
It then took a brilliant last-ditch intervention to prevent Chilwell’s low ball across the six-yard box finding Abraham poised for an almost certain goal, and Ziyech couldn’t keep his half-volley down when another Chilwell cross found him unmarked at the back post.
When our third goal did arrive in the 50th minute, it was created by the full-back on the opposite side. Ziyech laid the ball off for Reece James and he delivered a pinpoint low cross to the centre, which was met by Abraham to side-foot past Gomis from close range.
It was fair to say Rennes were struggling to get a grip on the game with 10 men with Chelsea enjoying near complete one-way traffic in the early stages of the second half.
In an effort to regain some measure of control, Rennes made a triple substitution, and Lampard followed suit by bringing on Emerson Palmieri, Mateo Kovacic and Olivier Giroud for Chilwell, Kante and Abraham.
Two of our subs nearly combined almost instantly, as Emerson tried to find Giroud with a low cross, but it was cut out at the last moment.
As we ticked over into seven hours of football since Chelsea last conceded a goal, Thiago Silva gave an example of his contribution to that statistic as he brilliantly intercepted the cross at the end of a rare forward push by Rennes.
The Brazilian defender then showed the other part of his game as he picked out James on the right with a raking long pass and Werner was inches away from getting on the end of the right-back’s low cross to get his hat-trick, but couldn’t quite slide far enough.
That pass turned out to be Thiago Silva’s last contribution as he was withdrawn for Toni Rudiger, and soon afterwards Lampard made his final substitution, bringing on Callum Hudson-Odoi for Hakim Ziyech.
Giroud also went close to getting his first Champions League goal of the season, when Ziyech intercepted a loose pass out from the back and slipped a pass through the defence, but Gomis was quick off his line to block the shot.
There was still time for Mendy to play his part in the victory with ensure he retained his perfect clean sheet record in the Champions League with a good save from Grenier, and when Rennes slotted in the rebound it was clearly from an offside position.
Otherwise, the Blues were largely content to cruise through the remainder of the second half in a game which was largely decided by those two first-half decisions by the referee and Werner’s cool head from the penalty spot. That means we stay top of our group and remain unbeaten in this season’s Champions League without conceding a goal in our first three matches.
Werner at home at the Bridge
Werner’s double strike from the penalty spot kept his incredible record in the Champions League going. Between Chelsea and RB Leipzig, the striker has now had a hand in 13 goals across just 14 appearances in the competition, with 10 goals and three assists.
However, before tonight every one of his eight previous Champions League goals had been scored away from home. His first Champions League goals on home turf may have taken a long time to come, but he seemed to have no problems against Rennes as they arrived in a pair. Perhaps he was just waiting for his chance to do it Stamford Bridge.
We are back at Stamford Bridge on Saturday in the Premier League for a 5.30pm kick-off against Sheffield United, before domestic football pauses for the November international break.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Mendy; James, Thiago Silva (Rudiger 68), Zouma, Chilwell (Emerson 63); Kante (Kovacic 63), Jorginho (c), Mount; Ziyech (Hudson-Odoi 75), Abraham (Giroud 63), Werner
Unused subs: Caballero, Ziger, Christensen, Tomori, Azpilicueta, Alonso
Scorer: Werner pen 10, pen 41, Abraham 50
Booked: Kante 26, Ziyech 32, Jorginho 65, Kovacic 79
Rennes (4-3-3): Gomis; Traore, Da Silva (c), Aguerd, Dalbert; Bourigeaud, Nzonzi (Grenier 62), Lea Siliki (Truffert h-t); Gboho (Del Castillo 62), Guirassy (Hunou 76), Terrier (Doku 62)
Unused subs: Salin, Bonet, Nyamsi, Assignon, Rutter, Omari, Ugochukwu
Booked: Dalbert 9, 40, Del Castillo 89
Sent off: Dalbert 40
Referee: Felix Zwayer