A Rodrigo volley was enough for Valencia to earn victory over Chelsea in their opening Group H game as the La Liga club tarnished Frank Lampard’s first Champions League game as Blues boss.
The hosts had plenty of chances to take control at Stamford Bridge, forcing Valencia goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen into multiple saves, most notably to block Marcos Alonso’s low free-kick. Ross Barkley compounded Lampard’s misery by grabbing the ball from penalty-taker Mateo Kovacic and missing from the spot after referee Cuneyt Cakir decided Daniel Wass had handled in the area.
Valencia’s off-the-field issues have overshadowed their on-field exploits since Marcelino’s sacking last week, but Albert Celades’ side bounced back from their 5-2 defeat to Barcelona with a resilient performance at Stamford Bridge. With Jasper Cillessen in fine form and Mason Mount’s injury having compounded Chelsea’s frustrations, the Blues’ frailties were exposed once more when Rodrigo Moreno prodded in Dani Parejo’s free-kick with16 minutes remaining.
Fresh from his hat-trick against Wolves, Tammy Abraham should have done better in the sixth minute when he latched onto Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross – Cillessen making the save.
Chelsea were dealt a blow soon after, Mount’s Champions League debut cut short as he failed to overcome an ankle injury inflicted by Francis Coquelin’s robust challenge.
Willian’s volley drew a brilliant stop out of Cillessen on the stroke of half-time and Valencia’s goalkeeper had more work to do when he kept out Marcos Alonso’s free-kick. But just after Lampard had gambled in throwing on Olivier Giroud for Kurt Zouma, Valencia struck.
Having stole a march on his markers, Rodrigo just managed to make enough contact on Parejo’s superb pass. Chelsea’s fortunes looked to have turned with four minutes remaining when referee Cuneyt Cakir handed them a lifeline having looked at the touch-line screen, but Barkley failed to keep his composure.