Chelsea’s Champions League campaign got off to a rough start Tuesday night after a real snatch and grab performance from Valencia ensured that the turmoil ridden Spaniards returned home with all three points.
A single goal from Rodrigo fifteen minutes from time was enough for Albert Calede’s side who frustrated The Blues all night.
Both sides came into the game following domestic commitments the prior weekend, both sides partaking in games that ended in a 5-2 score line.
Whereas Chelsea trounced Wolves thanks to a Tammy Abraham hattrick, Valencia were on the opposite end of a battering from Barcelona.
With Valencia’s troubled start to their league campaign and off-field drama, most had Chelsea down as favourites for this game, and in the first half these predictions seemed somewhat correct.
The home side were the first to chalk up a real chance as interplay between Willian and Cesar Azpilicueta down the right-hand side led to a cross which Tammy Abraham saw blocked out for a corner which eventually came to nothing.
Despite their early momentum, they were dealt a blow after a quarter of an hour when midfielder Mason Mount had to be substituted after he was unable to shake off a knock picked up just a few minutes prior.
The Blues continued on in their attempts to break the deadlock, Abraham once again meeting an Azpilicueta corner, this time seeing his header glance past the far post.
Chelsea continued to attack despite their dwindling possession, the lively Willian picking up the ball in the centre of the park before driving forward and unleashing a low shot which rolled wide of the goal.
The tricky Brazilian was involved again minutes later, taking down an expertly weighted Mateo Kovacic ball with his chest before firing over the bar having lost his footing.
Willian and Chelsea would have one more final chance before the half-time interval, this time the winger had his volley from inside the box expertly turned away at the near post by Jasper Cillessen.
The sides re-emerged from the tunnel following the break, and despite their dominance in the first half, Chelsea’s influenced clearly waned in the second half.
Daniel Parejo, who had already delivered several enticing crosses into the box from dead balls, pulled a move straight from the training ground as he laid a short cross to the edge of the box for Gameiro who fired over with a first time shot.
Chelsea’s never really managed to fashion a clear-cut chance from open play in the second half, the closest they came to scoring was from a low Marcos Alonso free kick that was palmed away by Cillessen.
In an attempt to snatch the lead, Chelsea undertook a change of shape as Kurt Zouma was replaced by Olivier Giroud and the breakthrough did come, however not for The Blues…
It was in fact Valencia who opened the scoring courtesy of the unmarked Rodrigo who got on the end of a floated delivery from Parejo to volley his side into the lead, completely changing the atmosphere within Stamford Bridge.
The visitors continued to frustrate their English opposition, but it seemed like it was about to be for naught as experienced Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir pointed to the spot after Daniel Wass was judged to have used his hand to block Fikayo Tomori’s header. Cakir initially waved away protests but changed his mind following a check from VAR.
With under five minutes to go, up stepped Ross Barkley, who took responsibility despite a crowd of Chelsea players who had congregated around the penalty spot in hopes that they could take the kick.
With a point on the line, Barkley stepped forward and blasted his penalty off the crossbar, wasting his sides best chance of claiming anything from the game as the final whistle blew just minutes later.
The decision to let Barkley take the penalty will no doubt be a major talking point in the coming days, but Frank Lampard and his men won’t have time to dwell on it as they must now turn their attention to the visit of Liverpool in the league at the weekend.
Meanwhile for the Spaniard’s, this could be the result that helps steady the ship after early season drama and help them kick into form both in the league and Europe, but only time will tell.
Chelsea: Kepa Arrizabalaga; Kurt Zouma (Olivier Giroud 73), Andreas Christensen, Fikayo Tomori; Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso; Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic (Ross Barkley 79), Mason Mount (Pedro 16), Willian; Tammy Abraham.
Subs Not Used: Willy Caballero (gk), Michy Batshuayi, Marc Guehi, Christian Pulisic.
Booked: Jorginho (33), Olivier Giroud (89).
Valencia: Jasper Cillessen; Daniel Wass, Gabriel Paulista, Ezequiel Garay, Jose Luis Gaya; Daniel Parejo, Denis Cheryshev (Mouctar Diakhaby 90), Geoffrey Kondogbia, Francis Coquelin; Rodrigo (Kangin Lee 90), Kevin Gameiro (Maxi Gomez 70).
Subs Not Used: Jaume Domenech (gk), Goncalo Guedes, Ferran Torres.
Booked: Francis Coquelin (9).
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir
Extratime.ie Man of The Match: Rodrigo (Valencia)