Chelsea held in Mestalla
Frank Lampard was denied a winning goal on his return to the Chelsea starting line-up as Valencia snatched a late 1-1 draw.
Last Updated: 28/09/11 11:06pm
Frank Lampard was denied a winning goal on his return to the Chelsea starting line-up as Valencia snatched a late 1-1 draw via the penalty spot in an entertaining UEFA Champions League encounter.
After a goalless first-half, the contest sprung into life in the second period with both goalkeepers on form before Lampard, benched for the last two games, handing Chelsea the lead.
Valencia responded well, though, and equalised through Roberto Soldado's 87th-minute penalty after substitute Salomon Kalou was adjudged to have handled inside the penalty area.
Andre Villas-Boas' men lost their discipline following the final whistle as Ashley Cole and Juan Mata received yellow cards for dissent after the Blues were denied the chance to take a free-kick.
The home crowd were almost silenced inside three minutes when captain David Albelda presented the ball to Fernando Torres, who was bundled over on the edge of the box by Adil Rami.
There was no appeal for a penalty from Torres, and the incident was overlooked by Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli.
Victor Ruiz nearly put the ball in his own net two minutes later as Chelsea assumed complete command and, while Valencia began to settle, they looked a threat every time they broke.
Ruiz was booked for what was almost a last-man tackle on Ramires, and Lampard's low free-kick was saved by the impressive Diego Alves, who was making his first start of the season after Vincente Guaita was dropped.
Valencia finally began to look like the side that had caused Barcelona so many problems in their last home game and went close in the 25th minute when Pablo Hernandez sent Jordi Alba's cross into the sidenetting.
Albelda earned an early second-half booking for tripping Florent Malouda but the game was otherwise in danger of falling flat until it exploded into life in the 51st minute.
Jose Bosingwa was given all the time and space he needed to swing in a cross for Torres, whose bullet header was sensationally clawed away by Alves with the keeper wrong-footed.
Valencia surged down the other end and Soldado somehow failed to get his head on Hernandez's cross, with the goal at his mercy.
Alves then completely justified his selection with three stunning saves in two minutes, first when one-on-one with Ramires, then from point-blank range from Torres and again when Ruiz diverted a corner towards his own net.
But he was statuesque as Chelsea finally took the lead in the 56th minute, Lampard drilling home his first goal of the season from open play from 20 yards after being picked out by Malouda.
Lampard barely celebrated but was mobbed by his team-mates.
Soldado's touch let him down after Banega's ball put him one-on-one with Cech, who then got away with a mix-up with Cole.
The home side sent on Pablo Piatti for Jeremy Mathieu and Villas-Boas responded by withdrawing the lively Ramires - who picked up a knock in the first half - for Raul Meireles.
Cech kept Chelsea's lead intact when he tipped over Piatti's rising drive as Valencia began to go for broke.
Manager Unai Emery introduced Jonas and Sofiane Feghouli for the final 18 minutes as Chelsea introduced Nicolas Anelka for Torres.
Cech held Feghouli's deflected drive and Piatti went close again but Malouda could have killed the contest when he shot tamely at Alves after a well-crafted break.
Lampard left the field to a standing ovation from the travelling fans, as Kalou came on for the final seven minutes.
But Kalou immediately gave the ball to Jonas, whose 25-yard curler was tipped wide by Cech, and the striker then inexplicably handled the resultant corner in the box.
The referee showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot and booking the Ivory Coast international before Soldado stroked the penalty beyond Cech with just three minutes remaining.
But there was still time for Anelka to waste a glorious chance to win it in the final minute as Alves once again came out on top in a one-on-one clash before a heavy touch once again let down Soldado at the other end.The game finished with a flurry of yellow cards, as Villas-Boas stepped in to calm down his frustrated stars.
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|8||Shots on Target||9|
|5||Shots off Target||2|