Chelsea moved closer to qualification from Group E in the Champions League as Timo Werner scored two penalties in a 3-0 win over ten-men Rennes.
Werner won the first spot-kick on his own in the ninth minute, drawing a foul from Dalbert, but there was altogether more controversy for the second, which saw the Rennes defender receive a second yellow card after Tammy Abraham's spot deflected off his shin and onto his arm.
Dalbert's sending off effectively ended the game as a contest but Tammy Abraham added gloss to the scoreline in the 50th minute, converting Reece James' low cross from the right.
Luis Miguel Echegaray was joined by Jimmy Conrad on the latest episode of ¡Qué Golazo! to break down Wednesday's action. Listen below:
Catch up on the key talking points below.
Lampard's depth looks ever more enviable
It was hard to imagine that there was the best part of $170 million of high grade attacking talent unavailable to Frank Lampard when he was able to deploy a quartet of Hakim Ziyech, Mason Mount, Timo Werner and Tammy Abraham. Should help have been required then-World Cup winner Olivier Giroud and the exceptional young winger Callum Hudson-Odoi were sat on the substitutes' bench.
It was not in what was a comfortable victory for the Blues from the moment Timo Werner struck the penalty he had won for himself in the 10th minute. Thanks to Lampard's deep squad of attacking options many of these players looked impressively fresh; Chelsea took their time in working Ziyech into the starting XI following his knee injury but he already plays like someone with several months of experience in this system.
Werner is up to seven goals from 11 games, a figure that was helpfully inflated by two penalties to go with the one he scored against Krasnodar a week ago. Still, he now has six goals and two assists from his last six games and is looking an ever more confident part of the Chelsea side, typifying a team that looks like it could be about to leave its early season growing pains behind it.
Harsh realities of handball rule
Do you want consistency or do you want common sense? Football's lawmakers have gravitated toward the second in recent years, and unfortunately for Dalbert that meant that when the ball deflected off his leg and onto his arm, which he had raised as part of his defensive motion, there was a strong possibility that he was going to be punished.
There is an alternative, that we trust referees to judge whether a defender intends to use his hand in the box but that will inevitably bring debate over a lack of consistency with pundits highlighting one incident where a penalty was given and a similar one where it wasn't.
That does not change the fact that there is something that feels inherently unfair in moments like Chelsea's second penalty. Because the ball happened to loop off his shin and onto his arm, Rennes found themselves a further goal down and disadvantaged by one man. The game was effectively over because of a freak deflection. Undoubtedly, the rule as it stands risks further harsh punishment on defenders but it is uniformly harsh and perhaps that is the best the sport can hope for.
Defensive improvements look ever more real
Seven games into Edouard Mendy's Chelsea career he has six clean sheets to his name. What was notable tonight was how little he had to do to retain that impressive record with Rennes registering just two shots on goal, and none on target, before halftime. Not until the 71st minute did the goalkeeper have anything to do, saving sharply from Jeremy Doku and soon following that with an even better save from Clement Grenier.
It is a truism of goalkeeping that the very best still show their quality on nights where they are largely not needed but Mendy cannot control how few shots he is facing.
The Blues have now played over six hours of football without conceding and much of the credit for that should go to those further up the pitch. Against Rennes Chelsea pressed high and carefully, this was not a cavalier strategy designed to win the ball close to goal but to ensure that their hosts had to work hard to advance up the pitch. Abraham impressed as a first line of defense, a role he had hardly excelled in before this season.
Whether defending in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 there was a more visible shape and structure across the Chelsea side and that, as much as the additions of Mendy and Thiago Silva, is behind this swift change in the goals against column.
Kurt Zouma: Chelsea's defensive improvements have largely been credited to Mendy and Silva but the Frenchman is impressing all the more alongside his veteran center-back partner. He passes the ball well, invariably wins his headers and appears ever more composed. RATING: 7
Damien Da Silva: On a gruelling night for Rennes, the 32-year-old did all that could be asked of him and much more to keep the scoreline respectable for 10 men. Most impressive of all was his diving flick to take the ball off Werner's feet when the German's hat-trick beckoned. RATING: 6
Tammy Abraham: Scoring his first goal since late September, the 23-year-old's movement stood out at Stamford Bridge, particularly when he darted to the near post to turn in Reece James' excellent cross. RATING: 7
Chelsea host Sheffield United on Saturday in the Premier League whilst Rennes travel to Paris Saint-Germain. These two sides meet again at Stade Roazhon on Nov. 24.