Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has hailed Olivier Giroud after the Frenchman came off the bench to score a late winner against Rennes on Tuesday night and secure the club’s earliest progression to the Champions League last 16 in the last 10 years.
Giroud has dominated Chelsea headlines in recent weeks because of his lack of playing time and concerns over what it means for Euro 2020 prospects next summer. But he showed what he offers the Blues with a stunning leap and header to win what had been a tough game.
Speaking ahead of the game, Lampard had already explained that it is his intention to give Giroud chances this season and keep the 34-year-old at Stamford Bridge.
But he reiterated that stance after the final whistle and praised Giroud’s impact on the game.
“That was great from him. Not only that but his hold-up play when he came on, his physicality,” Lampard said in a post-match interview with BT Sport.
“I have selection issues because I have Tammy [Abraham] who is playing well, and Oli who always contributes in that way with that professionalism and was incredible in ‘Restart’. I have two players in a similar position fighting for a place, but that’s a good problem.
“Oli will get his minutes, he will start matches because we have a busy schedule. You see 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.”
Chelsea can now fully focus on a huge London derby against Premier League leaders Tottenham on Sunday and Lampard has even more attacking options at his disposal after confirming that Christian Pulisic will now be available for that one after his latest injury layoff.
The American has missed Chelsea’s last five games in all competitions, having already missed five games at the start of the campaign.
He notably also missed a significant chunk of last season through injury, before returning to fitness in time for ‘Project Restart’ and contributing eight goals and assists in the final nine games.
Ahead of this season, top pundit Gary Neville told 90min that he anticipates the 22-year-old will become the Premier League’s ‘next world star’.
Kai Havertz made his return to action against Rennes after a coronavirus layoff, while Callum Hudson-Odoi made only his third start of the season and scored Chelsea’s opener in the 2-1 victory.