Chelsea fail to gain full points after Salomon Kalou foolishly handled inside the box with 3 minutes to go, ruining Juan Mata’s fairytale return to the Mestalla. In a match where veteran Frank Lampard was recalled, Chelsea looked to gain six out of six in their opening two matches of the group stages. The match proved to be a tough one in the end, but Chelsea will be bitterly disappointed they did not come home with three points in the bag.
The first half started well for Chelsea: within five minutes, Torres had a great chance to score, but a heavy touch took the ball away from him, and though he appeared to be bundled over in the box when chasing after it, no penalty was given. No appeal was even made by Torres, who clearly knew himself that he should have scored.
Valencia put in some good attacks of their own, but Chelsea broke once again and Ramires was taken down by Victor Ruiz. Free-kick was awarded, but it could so easily have been a red card too. Lampard struck it well, but the keeper got down low to block it. Soldado of Valencia had a few chances to score again, but Captain John Terry was there to prevent any such thing happening. Juan Mata was having a quiet evening, but the game was pretty quiet, and soon, the half fizzled out, with Hernandez testing Cech from range, one of the last attempts in the half.
The second half was a complete contrast to the first. Both teams played well and the game sparked into life. Jose Bosingwa crossed in and Fernando Torres got his head on it, but somehow, Diego Alves managed to make a superb reflex stop, diving to his left to prevent a certain goal from happening. Moments later, Ramires was put through by Lampard, but he dallied on it for too long and shot straight at the keeper.
Diego Alves continued to be inspired, saving from Torres and his own team-mate in what proved to be a good spell of pressure for Chelsea. And that soon proved. Florent Malouda, with plenty of space on the right-hand side, waited and waited until he crossed to Lampard, who side-footed it beautifully low into the corner of the goal. A typical goal from the edge of the penalty area, and a triumphant celebration, with fists raised and hands clenched.
Though that had most certainly been coming, it did not stop Valencia. Cech saved well from Piatti and a long-range strike from Feghouli. With moments left on the clock, Cech saved again from Jonas’s strike, but all his heroics were not to be. Kalou, who had only just come on for Lampard, stupidly handled in the box, gifting Valencia a point. And duly they took it, Soldado sending Cech the wrong way.
Anelka had a chance to score on the 89th minute, but once again Alves saved. A melee ensued at the final whistle, with Mata and Cole being booked, but that, as they say, is that.
A good point for Chelsea, which many would have taken before kick-off. But having seen a very attacking and dominant display, AVB and Chelsea will be disappointed they did not get the maximum amount of points. Arguably the hardest opponent in Chelsea’s group, this was always going to be tricky, especially at a passionate stadium that is the Mestalla. Mata looked quiet on his return, Torres had his opportunities, whilst Lampard really proved his critics wrong by putting in a fine display, topped off with a goal. In the post-match interview, he said “being on the bench has always made me work harder”. Are you listening, Carlos Tevez? Four points from six in the group stage is very acceptable, but AVB will hope to get back to winning ways, starting immediately at Bolton on Sunday.
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