Valencia spoiled Frank Lampard’s managerial debut in the Champions League by earning a morale-boosting 1-0 win at Chelsea on Tuesday after Ross Barkley spurned a chance to equalise by missing from the penalty spot.
Soccer Football – Champions League – Group H – Chelsea v Valencia – Stamford Bridge, London, Britain – September 17, 2019 Chelsea’s Ross Barkley misses from the penalty spot REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
Spain forward Rodrigo Moreno gave the visitors the lead against the run of play in the 74th minute of the Group H game, getting the slightest of touches on a free kick from Dani Parejo to send the ball into the roof of the net.
Chelsea continued to threaten and were awarded a penalty after a VAR review spotted a handball by Valencia defender Daniel Wass.
But Barkley sent the resulting spot kick on to the crossbar and over and Europa League holders Chelsea fell to their first home defeat in European competition since losing to Paris St Germain in March 2016.
“We shouldn’t lose the game. Clearly,” Lampard told reporters.
“We had a fair few chances and then the penalty, which we miss. We have to keep our heads up. There is a long way to go and this is a lesson that teams at this level can hurt you.”
Lampard became the first Chelsea manager to lose his debut Champions League match in charge –- 10 of the previous 11 had won, while Gianluca Vialli drew with AC Milan in 1999.
Valencia travelled to London reeling from a stinging 5-2 league loss at Barcelona in coach Albert Celades’s first game in charge after the much-loved Marcelino was sacked, despite overseeing two top-four finishes and winning the Copa del Rey.
His dismissal bewildered the players, who began a media blackout after the decision, while influential defender Ezequiel Garay fiercely criticised the move in an angry post on social media.
CELADES ‘HUGELY IMPRESSED’
But the Spanish side leave the English capital emboldened and with three points after producing a solid, professional display and celebrating their triumph with their small band of travelling supporters tucked in a corner of Stamford Bridge.
“It’s difficult to forget about everything that has happened but I thank the players for welcoming me and their professionalism,” coach Celades said.
“We are going to get back to normality little by little and I was hugely impressed by the effort we put in today. It was not the ideal situation but we have tried to close ranks and look forward.”
Lampard’s side went into the game in confident mood after beating Wolverhampton Wanderers 5-2 in the Premier League on Saturday and their supporters belted out the manager’s name in his first Champions League game as a coach, after he won the competition in 2012 as a Chelsea player.
Visiting goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was forced to make a pair of impressive saves to prevent the Londoners from taking the lead, turning away a powerful strike from Willian right before halftime.
The Dutchman then twice thwarted Marcos Alonso, parrying a low free kick early in the second half and tipping another set-piece effort from the Spaniard over the bar in stoppage time.
Chelsea were also dealt a setback with an ankle injury to in-form midfielder Mason Mount, who had to be taken off in the first half after a rash challenge from Valencia’s Francis Coquelin.
Juergen Klopp was frustrated by Liverpool’s poor finishing after his side began their Champions League title defence with a 2-0 defeat away to Napoli, who scored two late goals at the Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday.
Soccer Football – Champions League – Group E – Napoli v Liverpool – Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy – September 17, 2019 Napoli’s Dries Mertens in action with Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Adrian REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
Dries Mertens scored from the penalty spot with eight minutes remaining after Andy Robertson tripped Jose Callejon inside the box and Napoli substitute Fernando Llorente added a second in stoppage time to put the result beyond doubt.
Klopp’s side became the first competition winners to lose the opening game of their Champions League defence since AC Milan were defeated by Ajax Amsterdam in 1994 and the German was concerned by his players’ wastefulness.
“It should hurt because there were opportunities for us,” he told BT Sport.
“It was an open game with a lot of counter attacks, but we didn’t finish them off and that is a problem. In the second half it was a wild game, they were running and we were running.”
Klopp was also unhappy about the penalty awarded to the home side after Robertson was adjudged to have fouled Callejon.
“I don’t think it’s a penalty,” he said. “What can I say, for me, it is clear and obvious no penalty. He jumps before any contact, we can’t change that.”
Napoli’s Hirving Lozano headed in from close range early on but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside, before Sadio Mane forced home keeper Alex Meret into a save and Roberto Firmino flashed a header wide before the break.
Liverpool keeper Adrian denied Mertens with a superb reaction stop early in the second half before Meret dived to direct Mohamed Salah’s effort wide.
But the late double from Mertens and Llorente secured the three points for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, who also beat Liverpool at home at the same stage last season.
“We worked hard to defend and attack as a unit, because at times football means adapting to situations and I think we did it well,” Ancelotti told Sky Sport Italia.
“We felt confident on the second goal, it was near the end and we were a goal up. You can press high at times, not at others, it’s about maintaining your identity and also being able to do everything. I liked our quality, but also how we played ugly when we needed to.”
In the other Group E game, Salzburg made an impressive start with a 6-2 victory at home to Genk.
Erling Haaland scored a first-half hat-trick for the Austrian champions, becoming the third youngest player to net a Champions League treble at the age of 19 years and 58 days, behind Raul (18y 113d) and Wayne Rooney (18y 340d)