LONDON – Valencia gatecrashed Frank Lampard’s managerial bow 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.