Chelsea’s return to the Champions League ended in disappointment as Ross Barkley missed a late penalty that ensured Valencia claimed victory at Stamford Bridge.
Frank Lampard’s first game as a manager in the tournament he won as a player with Chelsea in 2012 turned into a night of frustration as Valencia took advantage of slack marking at a free-kick for Rodrigo to score the winner on 74 minutes.
Chelsea, who lost in-form youngster Mason Mount to injury early on, had the chance to rescue a point when referee Cuneyt Cakir awarded a penalty for handball after consulting VAR when Daniel Wass blocked Fikayo Tomori’s header.
Barkley had only come on as a substitute eight minutes earlier but insisted taking the spot-kick instead of the Blues’ regular taker Jorginho and Willian, who argued his own case to take it before relenting.
It was a tight and tense encounter with chances at a premium and a tricky Group H, which also includes Lille and last year’s semi-finalists Ajax, has got even tougher for Chelsea after starting their campaign with a damaging home loss.
Chelsea lack touch of class
This was a tough start to life in the Champions League for Lampard and a Chelsea side robbed of the ‘X Factor’ given to them for so long by Eden Hazard.
The mood in the camp will not have been helped by Barkley’s insistence on taking that ill-fated late penalty when it appeared Jorginho, who scored in the Super Cup final against Liverpool, was stepping forward for the task.
Barkley’s determination came at a heavy price, glancing a poor effort off the bar and high into the Matthew Harding Stand. He took the kick after conversations with Jorginho, Willian, Tammy Abraham and captain Cesar Azpilicueta.
It ended with a handshake from Jorginho before the spot-kick but it was a chaotic scene with an almost inevitable conclusion.
It was a night when not much went right for Chelsea, starting with what looked like a nasty ankle injury to Mount, who was caught by a reckless follow-through in a challenge by former Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin.
Chelsea had their moments, especially when Jasper Cillessen saved from Willian and Marcos Alonso – but Lampard’s side simply could not produce the touch of quality to break down Valencia and were too static as Daniel Parejo’s free-kick released Rodrigo.
This means Chelsea are on the back foot only 90 minutes into their return to the Champions League and are still to win at Stamford Bridge this season.
Valencia lift the gloom
Chelsea’s disappointment will be even more acute as this looked like the perfect opportunity to get their Champions League campaign off to a winning start against a Valencia side who arrived in London amid turmoil.
Valencia’s players and fans had been infuriated by the decision to sack coach Marcelino last week after he won the Copa del Rey last season and took them back into the Champions League.
Marcelino’s successor Albert Celades started his reign with a 5-2 defeat at Barcelona on Saturday – but his Valencia side showed plenty of resolve here and were always a threat, which was realised by that free-kick that was just too quick and too smart for Chelsea and resulted in Rodrigo’s goal.
This was a real morale booster for Celades and Valencia but a serious blow for Chelsea as Ajax signalled their threat in Group H with a 3-0 win over Lille.
Tough night for Chelsea’s young guns
Chelsea’s young brigade have taken the Premier League by storm with Tammy Abraham scoring seven goals and Mason Mount on the mark three times.
Abraham found this a much tougher assignment although he still had moments of threat, particularly a glancing first-half header that was off target.
The 21-year-old never lost heart but he was starved of decent service and this was not to be his night.
It was even more painful for Mount, literally, as he never recovered from Coquelin’s early challenge and his attempts to carry on ended in despair. He and Chelsea will now anxiously await the medical verdict.
Defender Tomori did well in defence and also made his contribution in attack with a surging first-half run that brought danger and a header that resulted in the penalty.
There will be better nights than this but the Champions League will be adding layers to their learning experience.
Rare losing start for Chelsea – key stats
- This was only Chelsea’s second defeat in their past 42 Champions League group games at Stamford Bridge (W30 D10), with the other against Basel in 2013.
- Chelsea lost their opening Champions League match of a campaign for only the second time – the first was against Basel in 2013-14.
- Frank Lampard became the first Chelsea manager to lose his opening Champions League match in charge – 10 of the previous 11 had won, while Gianluca Vialli drew with AC Milan in 1999.
- Chelsea became the first team since Liverpool in December 2008 against PSV (Darby, Kelly, Spearing) to hand three Champions League debuts to Englishmen aged 21 or younger in the same game (Abraham, Mount, Tomori).
- Valencia registered only their second away Champions League win in England (D7 L3) – their first was a 1-0 win at Liverpool in October 2002.
Tammy Abraham repaid manager Frank Lampard’s faith in youth as his two goals against Norwich helped Chelsea to their first win of the season.
In a frantic start, Abraham opened the scoring inside three minutes for the Blues, whose starting line-up had an average age of 24 years and 208 days – their youngest in the Premier League since February 1994.
But Norwich equalised just 156 seconds later, Todd Cantwell finishing from close range from a Teemu Pukki cross.
Mason Mount restored the Blues’ lead midway through the first half with his second goal of the season, but the Canaries soon pulled level once more as Pukki slotted in from a tight angle for his fifth of the campaign.
Chelsea dominated the start of the second half and were rewarded through Abraham’s second – an unstoppable drive past Tim Krul – before Kurt Zouma had a goal ruled out by the video assistant referee after substitute Olivier Giroud was judged to have fouled the Norwich keeper.
The result means Chelsea are unbeaten against Norwich in 16 meetings.
Chelsea youth stay patient
Lampard made two changes to the side that drew with Leicester last weekend, bringing in Abraham and Mateo Kovacic for Giroud and the injured N’Golo Kante, but he was forced to make another change after Pedro picked up a hamstring problem in the warm-up, replacing him with Ross Barkley.
His trust in his younger players paid dividends inside the opening 20 minutes at Carrow Road, with Abraham – who he said before kick-off would “cause Norwich problems” – finishing off Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross with a sweet finish into the bottom right-hand corner in the opening stages of the match.
Just 11 minutes after Cantwell’s equaliser for Norwich, Mount – who Lampard had on loan at Derby last season – cut inside the hosts’ defence and unleashed an unstoppable shot high into the net.
Despite Norwich’s second leveller, Chelsea continued to pressure their opponents’ shaky defence and Mount and Christian Pulisic both saw efforts go wide within moments of the second half getting under way.
Abraham’s second goal saw him become the youngest Chelsea player to score twice in a Premier League fixture since 1998, twisting and turning and tying Grant Hanley and Jamal Lewis in knots before firing past Krul.
The Blues thought they had scored again when Zouma poked a loose ball home, but the VAR got involved after referee Martin Atkinson had initially awarded the goal.
The only downside to Chelsea’s victory came late on as Mount hobbled off injured.
Canaries chirpy start slows down
Premier League newcomers Norwich have quickly established themselves as a side not to be underestimated this season and they demonstrated that early on against Chelsea as Finnish striker Pukki – the Canaries’ hat-trick hero against Newcastle – put the ball on a plate for Cantwell to score his first goal in the top flight.
After Mount’s goal, Chelsea enjoyed a spell of sustained pressure and Norwich had Krul to thank for not slipping further behind, the keeper producing a sublime save to swipe an Andreas Christensen header over the bar.
The hosts were soon level though, Pukki effortlessly slotting home to become only the 10th player to have scored in his first three Premier League appearances.
Norwich struggled to match Chelsea’s tempo after the break and had to wait more than 20 minutes for their first attack of the second half, but were punished just 30 seconds later as Abraham bagged his second.
Ben Godfrey hit the bar with a header from a corner soon after but manager Daniel Farke ruled change was needed, making a triple substitution with 10 minutes to go as his side searched for a late equaliser.
It worked to some extent, Norwich pushing Chelsea harder in the later stages than they had throughout the half but ultimately struggling to find the end product.
Man of the match – Mason Mount (Chelsea)
‘I’m really pleased’ – what they said
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, speaking to BBC Match of the Day: “It was a tough test and Norwich will get a lot of points here because they are a good side.
“The two goals we gave away I didn’t like but there were lots of good elements to our play and I’m really pleased.
“I’m particularly pleased for Tammy – he scored two good goals and the winning goal – but I want to talk about all the players today as we controlled the game on a hot day. Our performances haven’t given us what we deserved so far – but today it did.
“Pedro felt his hamstring in the warm-up but Mason was just a kick to his calf so hopefully he can quickly recover.”
Norwich manager Daniel Farke, speaking to BT Sport: “It was a pretty close game. Small details made the difference today.
“I think 2-2 at half time was the right result. Then Chelsea were dominating in the first 15 minutes of the second half and that gave them the edge.
“Sometimes when you play against a team like Chelsea, you have to ride that pressure out. I am pretty happy with the performance, we had a number of chances, unfortunately we could not find the equaliser.”
- Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has lost none of his three managerial meetings with Norwich (W2 D1), winning both of his visits to Carrow Road (also 4-3 with Derby in December 2018) – Mason Mount has been on the scoresheet in both such wins.
- Norwich have scored at least twice in 16 of their last 17 home league games, scoring a total of 46 goals in this period. However, this was their first home league defeat of 2019 (P12 W8 D3 L1).
- Both Norwich and Chelsea had scored after just five minutes and 32 seconds, the earliest time taken for both teams to find the net in a Premier League fixture since November 2017, when Crystal Palace v Everton was at 1-1 after 5:25.
- Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham has scored 28 league goals (including in the play-offs) since the start of last season, the most of any English player in the top two tiers of English football in that time.
- Aged 21 years and 326 days old, Abraham is the third youngest player to score a brace in the Premier League for Chelsea, after Mark Nicholls in January 1998 against Coventry (20y 225d) and Eddie Newton in December 1992 against Tottenham (20y 358d).
- Norwich forward Teemu Pukki (five goals) is the 10th player to score in each of his first three Premier League appearances, while only Pavel Pogrebnyak also scored as many as five in his first three in the competition.
- Chelsea had two English players aged 21 or under score in the same Premier League match (Abraham and Mason Mount) for the first time since 22 August 1992, when Eddie Newton and Graham Stuart scored against Sheffield Wednesday.
- Norwich’s Todd Cantwell (one goal, two assists) has already been directly involved in as many Premier League goals in three games as he was in 24 Championship appearances last season.
- Since the start of last season, Norwich’s league matches have seen a total of 164 goals scored (99 for, 65 against), more than any other side in the top four tiers of English football in this time (excluding play-offs).
Following a trip to Crawley in the EFL Cup on Tuesday (19:45 BST), Norwich travel to West Ham on Saturday (15:00 BST) while Chelsea host Sheffield United at the same time.
Former England, Arsenal and Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole has announced his playing retirement from football.
Cole, 38, was out of contract at Derby County at the end of the 2018-19 season and says he is now focused on coaching.
He made his professional debut for Arsenal in 1999 and went on to represent Crystal Palace on loan, Chelsea, Roma, LA Galaxy and Derby.
“After hard thinking it was time to hang up my boots and look forward to my next chapter,” Cole told Sky Sports.
Cole said he is currently taking qualifications with a view to move into a coaching role.
The London-born defender earned 107 caps for England and is the most decorated footballer in FA Cup history, having lifted the trophy seven times.
He also won the Premier League twice with Arsenal – including the 2003-04 season in which the Gunners went unbeaten – and once with Chelsea after moving to Stamford Bridge in 2006.
Cole won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2011-12 and the Europa League the following season.
After joining Derby County in January, he worked under the management of his former Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard and helped the club to the Championship play-off final, where they were beaten by Aston Villa.