Even the assistance of VAR couldn’t prevent Chelsea from falling to defeat against Valencia in their first Champions League game for over a year and a half.
Ross Barkley saw his late penalty, awarded by VAR for a handball, clip the top of the bar on its way over leaving the outcast English midfielder to the mercy of a beyond agitated Stamford Bridge crowd. The spot-kick may have cost Chelsea points, but it was by no means the sole focus of the fans anger as they had for large periods of the game been subjected to a masterclass in pointless possession.
Chelsea created few chances throughout the 90 minutes, committing more fouls than they did shots on goal and impressive performances from both Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori did little to stem the flow of discontent.
With much of the game played in front of Valencia’s backline, the Blues looked bereft of ideas and creativity before Rodrigo broke free of his marker to compound Chelsea’s misery and keep Frank Lampard waiting for his first win at Stamford Bridge.
Kepa Arrizabalaga - 6
Wasn’t forced into a single save of note all game and will be disappointed to have been beaten at his near post.
Fikayo Tomori - 7
Was strong in the air, winning three aerial duels, and on the few occasions he misjudged the flight of the ball he showed a good turn of pace to recover possession.
Andreas Christensen - 7
Anticipated the loose ball well and looked composed in possession. He should, however, have looked to bring the ball out of defence with more regularity.
Kurt Zouma - 6
The Frenchman always looks to be on the cusp of a game-changing mistake but his heavy touches actually helped to draw opposition players in and his 89% pass accuracy meant that Chelsea were able to break the press and create space.
Cesar Azpilicueta - 6
Showed good variation in his play in the first half especially, coming from out to in and delivering deep or overlapping and pulling it back from the byline.
Jorginho - 5
His first-time passes were the main source of attacking threat for Chelsea but this said more about the Blues’ inability to get in behind Valencia’s backline then anything else.
By only completing one dribble all game he failed to mobilise Chelsea’s midfield and ignite the fluid transition play that has become such a huge part of their success this season.
Mateo Kovacic - 4
Was reluctant to take his man on, instead playing short or cutting back on himself. In the second half he lost his composure and began to give away needless fouls in and around the area. It was foul that gave away the free-kick from which he lost his marker, Rodrigo, who went on to give Valencia a shock lead. His performance lacked movement, pace and directness among other things.
Marcos Alonso - 6
Pushed high up and got beyond his marker well but his deliveries lacked accuracy. Came close to scoring with a couple of well-struck set-pieces.
Willian - 7.5
The only player who looked willing to skip past his man and test the keeper. The Brazilian was always on the front foot and looked to be Chelsea’s most dangerous player, completing the most key passes (5) and dribbles (9) of any player on the pitch.
Tammy Abraham - 6
He tried bringing others into play but was often starved of possession as the ball continually broke down in the centre of the park. In an attempt not to isolate himself he dropped deep in search of the ball, but this just meant that Chelsea lacked an option in behind once more restricting their attacking play.
Mason Mount - N/A
Had begun the game brightly, looking to lead the Chelsea press but his first Champions League outing was soon curtailed by a horrific challenge from former Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin – who was inexplicably only shown a yellow card for the tackle in question.
Pedro – 4, Slow to turn on the ball he only served to break up Chelsea’s attacking momentum and should really have been taken off for Christian Pulisic even though the Spaniard had himself come on as a substitute.
Olivier Giroud – 5, carved out Chelsea’s clearest sight of goal but his effort was easily gathered by Jasper Cillessen. He struggled to see much more of the ball after that.
Ross Barkley – 4, Barkley’s season of toil continues to accelerate at an alarming rate, with his penalty miss just another step in the wrong direction for a player who looked to have the world at his feet during pre-season.