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Barkley's penalty pain leaves Blues in a tough spot

Chelsea 0-1 Valencia

Off target: Ross Barkley reacts after blazing his penalty over the bar
Off target: Ross Barkley reacts after blazing his penalty over the bar
Rodrigo Moreno
Adrian Rutherford

By Adrian Rutherford

Frank Lampard suffered more frustration as Chelsea crashed to a damaging home defeat to Valencia.

Substitute Ross Barkley's late penalty miss proved costly as the Spaniards kicked their Group H campaign off with a vital away win.

The Chelsea boss had spoken in the build-up about his affection for European nights, describing their Champions League triumph in 2012 as the greatest night of his career.

But this was one to forget, with Valencia taking the points through Rodrigo's 74th minute goal.

Barkley had the chance to rescue a point near the end, but fired over from the spot.

A bad night for Chelsea was compounded by the early loss of midfielder Mason Mount.

He was floored by a horrible challenge from Francis Coquelin, hobbling off to add to the growing injury list for the Blues.

On a frustrating evening, Chelsea should have been ahead after a first half which was goalless but far from dull.

They overcame the early loss of Mount to create a series of chances, with Willian a real driving force from midfield.

He had their best moment right on the stroke of half-time.

Pedro played the ball wide to Cesar Azpilicueta, who crossed to the Brazilian, whose blistering near-post effort was well saved.

Pedro had been drafted from the bench after that early injury to Mount, who was left stricken after being caught on the ankle by the left boot of ex-Arsenal midfielder Coquelin after just eight minutes.

Clearly upset, he was given a consoling hug by his manager as he departed the pitch.

Willian and Azpilicueta were driving Chelsea forward and the two combined again in the 26th minute.

It ended with Azpilicueta crossing to Tammy Abraham, who glanced his header wide.

Valencia, though, were stubborn opposition, defending well and looking sharp on the counter.

From one effort, they broke with pace; Rodrigo playing it left before meeting the cutback and hitting a low shot against team-mate Kevin Gameiro.

Chelsea finished the half strongly, as Willian took a pass from Mateo Kovacic, glided past three players and shot just wide.

The pair also linked up four minutes before the break.

Kovacic's superbly flighted ball picked out Willian, who took it around Gabriel but powered his left-foot shot over.

For all that, Valencia could have gone ahead 11 minutes after the restart.

Chelsea went to sleep at a corner, as Gameiro dropped back to meet Daniel Parejo's cross, hitting a first-time shot just over.

Marcos Alonso then nearly gave the Blues the lead.

Willian won a free-kick and the full-back's effort was well hit, drawing a fine one-handed save from Jasper Cillessen.

It had been a troubled build-up for Valencia, who had lost their manager and been hammered 5-2 at Barcelona at the weekend.

But they were containing Chelsea and, when Willian's shot curled out, it drew groans from the increasingly frustrated home crowd - for whom things got worse when the visitors took the lead 16 minutes from the end.

Kovacic was penalised for a foul on Jose Gaya and from the set-piece, Chelsea were caught napping.

Rodrigo peeled away to meet Parejo's delivery and, while his strike wasn't the cleanest, it looped over Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Chelsea were, however, handed a lifeline four minutes from the end.

Daniel Wass's block with his hand on Fikayo Tomori's header hadn't been spotted. It went to VAR, referee Cuneyt Cakir also reviewed it on the screen, then gave the spot-kick.

But Barkley, on in place of Kovacic seven minutes earlier, blazed his kick over.

Belfast Telegraph


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