UEFA Champions League: Valencia 2-2 Chelsea – 4 Talking Points
An exhilarating contest that could’ve swung in either case ended with both sides sharing the points. Both Valencia and visitors Chelsea originated from behind at some point however obviously neither might do more.
The home side created plenty of early chances, and although Chelsea weren’t without their own, Valencia looked most likely to open the scoring.
They did so in the 40th minute through Carlos Soler only for Mateo Kovacic to equalise for Chelsea less than a minute later on with his first-ever goal for the club.
Early in the second half, Christian Pulisic put Chelsea ahead and although the goal was at first ruled out for offside, it was granted to the Blues by VAR after a prolonged delay.
It sparked a more open match that saw Valencia throw caution to the wind. However it was not up until the 82nd minute that Daniel Wass’ stubborn cross would loop over Kepa to discover the back of the net.
While neither side would be happy with the outcome, Valencia have the harder job of facing Ajax in the last game that might choose their fate in the group.
1 N’Golo Kante, the playmaker
The French midfielder is not especially understood for his exploits in the last third of the pitch, and although its more common to now see him going forward in this Chelsea set-up, he stepped it up against their Spanish opponents.
N’Golo Kante was important in winning the ball in deep positions and carrying it forward or releasing runners. He also was spotted linking play in the final 3rd and making face package continuously. He was a big part of the assaulting play in the game which has not constantly held true of his play in a Chelsea shirt.
On a number of occasions, he had a go at goal also in a direct risk to Valencia’s defence. He also delivered the cross that resulted in Christian Pulisic’s goal in terms of tangibly contributing in attack.
2 Kepa’s moment of redemption
On more than one event, Chelsea’s goalkeeper was unconvincing in front of his own goal. He looked like even the most tame shot could possibly beat him, but as has been publicly apparent in the past, the Spaniard hasn’t lacked for confidence.
He made that perfectly clear when in the 64th minute, a tangle of legs in package resulted in a soft penalty being awarded to Valencia. Dani Parejo stepped up to take it but his compatriot in goal stood tall and dived the proper way to stop his well-struck shot and parry it wide.
All of Kepa’s errors up till that point were forgotten because moment of magnificence as he kept Chelsea in the lead with his dazzling charge save. There’s still great deals of uncertainty about him in goal but in that minute he stood up to be counted when the team actually needed him.
3 Error-prone Chelsea
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea started this season with a reputation for defending poorly, and although they have fixed that image to some extent in their last few games, it still mostly applies.
Against Valencia, their safeguarding was better, but they developed an unsafe routine of dedicating mistakes within their own half. Kepa’s mistake was the most threatening as he wound up playing the ball to the opponents’ feet straight at least when. When Jorginho’s wayward pass was intercepted and Rodrigo’s shot cruised over the bar, he was also caught in no man’s land.
The Italian midfielder and Willian were both guilty of trying to play a pass too many in dangerous locations frequently leading to turnovers in locations that Valencia might capitalise upon. The profligacy of their forwards spared the Blues any blushes. However, Chelsea’s midfield, in particular, needs some more protective strength.
4 Valencia’s missed opportunities
Although the spotlight of missed chances on the night will fall to Maxi Gomez whose shocking miss at 0-0 in the first half set the tone for Valencia’s game. He would go on to miss a couple more clear possibilities too. Approved that included a good save by Kepa however the forward’s wasted possibilities were symptomatic of Valencia’s inability finish off their huge chances.
Parejo will take a fair share of the blame too having actually missed out on from the spot, but Rodrigo had an opportunity to make it all right towards the end of the game. His opportunity resembled the one Maxi Gomez had at the end and the start product kind both was the same.
Had actually valencia revealed more composure in front of objective, they may have had a different outcome on the night.