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Dublin: 3°C Sunday 28 February 2021

Ross Barkley rues missed penalty as Chelsea are beaten at home by Valencia

The Londoners were beaten by Valencia at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night.

Barkley reacts after his penalty miss.
Barkley reacts after his penalty miss.
Image: Nick Potts

VALENCIA PUT A week of turmoil behind them to beat Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge in Frank Lampard’s first Champions League game in charge of the Blues on Tuesday.

Chelsea dominated possession, but were toothless in attack after losing promising midfielder Mason Mount to an early injury and were punished 16 minutes from time when Rodrigo grabbed all three points for the Spaniards.

Lampard’s men should still have rescued a point, but Ross Barkley fired a late penalty over the bar.

Valencia had arrived in London still reeling from the unpopular sacking of coach Marcelino last week, who had led the club to two top-four finishes in La Liga and the Copa del Rey last season in his two seasons in charge.

Los Che were also thrashed 5-2 by Barcelona in Albert Celades’s first game in charge on Saturday, but bounced back with a solid if unspectacular performance that was still good enough to beat a Chelsea side that badly missed the imagination of the departed Eden Hazard.

chelsea-v-valencia-uefa-champions-league-group-h-stamford-bridge Chelsea manager Frank Lampard. Source: EMPICS Sport

Lampard has had a rocky start on his return to Stamford Bridge, but enjoyed his best result of his short time in charge with a 5-2 win at Wolves at the weekend.

Tammy Abraham scored a hat-trick in that match to take his tally to seven goals in his last three Premier League games and threatened to carry that form into his first Champions League appearance early on.

Abraham was denied by Jasper Cillessen as he tried to force home Cesar Azpilicueta’s dangerous near-post cross inside the first 10 minutes, but Chelsea’s early momentum was soon halted by an injury blow to the other young star of their season so far.

Francis Coquelin was lucky to escape with just a yellow card for a dangerous lunge on Mount, that forced the England international off with an ankle injury.

Without the creative quality of Mount, the hosts were reliant on moments of magic from Willian to open up an organised if unambitious Valencia. The Brazilian just lacked the finish after chesting down Mateo Kovacic’s fine pass over the top of the Valencia defence as he blazed well over.

Former Barca ‘keeper Cillessen had been heavily criticised for his performance upon his return to the Camp Nou on Saturday, but came to his side’s rescue again in first-half stoppage time when this time a fierce volleyed effort from Willian found the target.

chelsea-v-valencia-uefa-champions-league-group-h-stamford-bridge Rodrigo celebrates putting Valencia ahead. Source: Tess Derry

Despite Chelsea’s obvious defensive weaknesses in conceding 11 times in their opening five Premier League games of the season, Valencia were happy to contain and counter-attack.

But the visitors made their mark from set-pieces.

Firstly, Kevin Gameiro fired over from a well-worked corner when picked out by Dani Parejo. However, Rodrigo made no such mistake after another pinpoint delivery from a Parejo free-kick as his shot into the ground bounced up and beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga.

The goal arrived just seconds after Lampard had introduced a second striker in Olivier Giroud as he chased all three points. Giroud fired too close to Cillessen moments later as Chelsea went in search of an equaliser.

And they were given a golden opportunity when Daniel Wass was harshly penalised for a handball after a lengthy delay for referee Cuneyt Cakir to consult replays four minutes from time.

However, no damage was done to Valencia as Barkley’s penalty hit the bar on its way over to condemn Chelsea to the worst possible start in Group H.

imago-20190917 Tagliafico celebrates with his Ajax team-mates. Source: Imago/PA Images

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Ajax began their Champions League campaign with a thumping 3-0 win over Lille to spark hopes of another deep run in the competition after their thrilling charge to the semi-finals last season.

Goals from Quincy Promes, Edson Alvarez and Nicolas Tagliafico saw off a spirited Lille side, who came into the match following the arrest of over 300 of their supporters after unrest earlier in the day.

The away supporters were arrested close to the Johan Cruyff Arena hours ahead of the Group H match, with the ANP national news agency reporting that fans were walking along the metro lines, forcing officials to halt rail traffic and evacuate two stations for a short while.

The impressive win puts Erik ten Hag’s side top of the group, level on three points with Valencia following their 1-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

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A frantic first half saw both sides hit each other with attack and counter-attack, and the hosts thought they had grabbed a 13th-minute lead when Hakim Ziyech brilliantly took Dusan Tadic’s pass and fired off a powerful shot, only for the Moroccan to watch in anguish as the ball rattled out off the post and bar.

However they had a deserved lead five minutes later, the impressive Promes beating a dawdling Lille defence to Tagliafico’s looping cross and glancing the opener in off the post.

Promes, a summer signing from Sevilla, then had a great chance to double Ajax’s lead four minutes before the break as he charged onto a pinpoint long pass from Alvarez, but couldn’t get enough on his volleyed finish to send it over Lille stopper Mike Maignan.

However they only went in ahead at half-time thanks to keeper Andre Onana, who pulled off an excellent save from Jonathan Ikone before Victor Osimhen spooned over the rebound.

Alvarez doubled the Dutch champions’ lead five minutes after the restart when he collected a superb David Neres pass and fired home from a tight angle.

Tagliafico then sealed the three points with a bullet header just after the hour mark to leave a frustrated Lille bottom of the group and home fans dreaming of another year of European drama.

Champions League results:

  • Napoli 2-0 Liverpool
  • Salzburg 6-2 Genk
  • Inter Milan 1-1 Slavia Prague
  • Borussia Dortmund 0-0 FC Barcelona
  • Lyon 1-1 Zenit Saint Petersburg
  • Benfica 1-2 RB Leipzig
  • Ajax 3-0 Lille
  • Chelsea 0-1 Valencia

- © AFP, 2019

Former Ireland performance analyst and current coaching wizard of OZ Eoin Toolan joins Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey to predict Ireland’s World Cup, break down every pool, and call the overall winners.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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