Olivier Giroud 'getting better with age' as Frank Lampard hails Chelsea striker for winner against Rennes

French striker comes off the bench to score decisive goal against Rennes

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Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has heaped praise on "great professional" Olivier Giroud after the veteran French striker came off the bench to score a late winner against Rennes on Tuesday.

With the score level at 1-1, after Callum Hudson-Odoi's first half finish was cancelled out by Sehrou Guirassy's 85th-minute header, Giroud leapt above Rennes defender Gerzino Nyamsi to head home the decisive goal in added time.

The 2-1 win at Stade de la Route de Lorient ensured Chelsea secured their passage into the Uefa Champions League knockout stage and retain top spot in Group E, level on 10 points with Sevilla.

Giroud has yet to start a Premier League or Champions League game this season but made his mark after coming on as a second-half substitute.

"Everybody kind of feels from the outside what a great professional he is, how highly-regarded he is by his teammates and myself," Lampard told reporters.

"He's so professional in how he trains and looks after himself that age isn't even a factor for him. He's getting better with age if anything, in terms of how he looks after himself."

Lampard has preferred Timo Werner and Tammy Abraham ahead of Giroud and the striker's lack of minutes prompted France manager Didier Deschamps to tell him to sort out his situation ahead of next year's Euros.

But with Chelsea set to play 10 games in six weeks, Lampard said more game time is in store for Giroud, who is France's second-highest scorer with 44 goals.


Rennes v Chelsea player ratings


Giroud had to be similarly patient last season, but the former Arsenal striker forced his way into the starting XI and his regular supply of goals after football returned from the coronavirus lockdown were crucial in helping Chelsea secure a top four place in the Premier League.

"He offers a lot for us and I keep saying it but the big schedule coming up and the way we play means I will rely on players," Lampard said.

"Thankfully for me he's a player that always keeps the right attitude if he's not playing regularly and I know when I call upon him that he comes in as he did today."

Chelsea, who have won their past six games in all competitions, next take on London rivals - and league leaders - Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.