Frank Lampard was quick to play down any controversy after Ross Barkley missed a late penalty as Chelsea suffered a nightmare start to their Champions League campaign with a 1-0 defeat to Valencia.
Rodrigo’s goal on 74 minutes proved the difference at Stamford Bridge on a forgettable first foray into Champions League management for the Blues legend.
A soft VAR decision saw Chelsea awarded a spot-kick with four minutes remaining and Barkley raced to get the ball, despite Jorginho taking penalties previously this season, and multiple team-mates seemingly questioned the decision.
But they allowed him to take the penalty and saw his poor effort clip the bar on the way over.
Despite the apparent discussions in the area, Lampard insisted that Barkley was the designated taker after scoring them in pre-season.
"Ross is a penalty taker and is when he starts games. He took it and missed it,” Lampard said.
“It is a great story to say there is contention between players. If he scores it is not a story. But he took it and missed. That is it. The disappointment to all of us is that we didn't get chance to win the game. There is no issue in the dressing room."
It was a dreadful end to a night that saw Mason Mount limp off injured after just 15 minutes following a nasty Francis Coquelin challenge.
“It is an ankle injury and hopefully not too bad. It needs to be assessed over the next few days,” Lampard added.
The in-form Tammy Abraham had the game’s first opening, trying to turn in Cesar Azpilicueta’s near-post cross only for Valencia keeper Jasper Cillessen to turn it behind
Mount was then caught by Coquelin on nine minutes and eventually gave up on trying to run the knock off five minutes later, as Valencia grew into the game after a slow start.
Abraham glanced ahead wide, while Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori had to be alert to sniff out attacks at the other end. Willian twice fired off target when presented with good opportunities, before forcing Cillessen into a smart save from a tight angle in stoppage-time before the beak.
Kevin Gameiro was presented with Valencia’s best chance on 57 minutes, curling wide after the ball sat up for him on the edge of the box and Chelsea needed a set-piece to test Cillissen again - Marcos Alonso’s low free-kick pushed behind for a corner.
At a tetchy Stamford Bridge it was Valencia who finally broke the deadlock with 16 minutes of the game remaining. They’d already tried numerous training ground set-pieces before the decisive one.
Dani Parejo floated ball into the box, rather than whipping it into the back post as Chelsea expected, and found Rodrigo. From a tight angle, he scuffed his shot into the ground and saw it bounce over Kepa and into the top corner.
Chelsea had created chances through Pedro and substitute Olivier Giroud fizzed a shot straight at Cillessen, before VAR’s input.
Tomori’s header hit Daniel Wass’ arm on its way down and after a two-minute delay, the referee decided it was penalty. That he had no time to react and the effort wasn’t goal bound does not matter in Europe.
Barkley surprisingly grabbed the ball and despite Jorginho’s best efforts, he was not giving it up. Willian looked distinctly unimpressed but Barkley won the battle, only to miss the target and cost Chelsea a valuable European point.
"We shouldn't lose the game,” Lampard said. “Clearly. At least not lose it. 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. It is a lesson. Teams at this level can hurt you."
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