Valencia picked up a smash-and-grab 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night, toppling Chelsea thanks to Rodrigos second-half goal.
Ross Barkley wasted a fantastic chance to draw the hosts level late on, striking a VAR-awarded penalty over the crossbar after appearing to relieve regular penalty takers Jorginho and Willian of their spot-kick duties - though manager Frank Lampard later confirmed he is the penalty taker when hes on the field.
Both sides were easy on the eye in he first half, though both lacked any real penetration - the first real effort of note coming on the stroke of half-time as Willian tested Jasper Cillessen in the visitors goal.
The Blues improved after the break, with Marcos Alonso going close from a free-kick, but were shellshocked by a sucker punch from Rodrigo - who converted one of Valencias two shots on target from Dani Parejos whipped free-kick.
Fikayo Tomoris header onto an unwitting Daniel Wass arm, via VAR review, gave Chelsea a chance to grab a share of the spoils, but it wasnt to be as Barkley blazed woefully over the top.
Heres 90mins breakdown of the game below.
Key Talking Point
It may have been his Champions League managerial debut, but Frank Lampard not only kept his faith in youth, he opted to use the three at the back system that was so impressive in the 5-2 demolition of Wolves.
The formation suited Chelsea on a night when Fikayo Tomori made his debut and an out-of-sorts Kurt Zouma replaced the injured Antonio Rudiger. Wing backs Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso dropped into a five with Valencia in possession, protecting the centre backs, and played high and wide when Chelsea gained possession.
It was reminiscent of Antonio Contes title-winning side at times, just without the cutting edge.
Recognising the need for change, Olivier Giroud replaced Zouma as the Blues reverted to a back four. But just a minute later, Valencia had taken the lead in what can probably be classed as an unlucky coincidence.
Both Alonso and Andreas Christensen squandered late chances as Chelsea piled on the pressure, but the late penalty miss might come back to haunt them.
Sadly, Mason Mounts competition debut ended on just 15 minutes as he failed to recover from a strong Francis Coquelin challenge; a real blow to Lampard ahead of the impending visit of Liverpool.
Starting XI: Arrizabalaga (6); Zouma (6), Christensen (7), Tomori (6), Azpilicueta (7), Jorginho (6), Kovacic (7), Alonso (7), Willian (8*), Mount (5), Abraham (6)
Substitues: Pedro (7), Giroud (5), Barkley (4)
Much maligned Brazilian winger Willian was Chelseas most positive player on the night, cutting inside to drive at the Valencia defence on countless occasions. In some ways Willians performance summed up Chelseas attacking play - as despite all of his endeavour, Chelsea struggled to create on a night where their attacking players simply didnt click.
It might have been a different story had he and Jorginho not stepped aside for Barkley on penalty duties, but that is something well never know.
Ross Barkley is an absolute and utter disgrace. He ran to the penalty spot to take the pen, argued with Jorginho and Willian, then proceeded to sky it.Not only is he Chelsea’s worst performing player every time he plays, he’s now gone and done this.Shouldn’t play again.
— EiF (@EiFSoccer) September 17, 2019
Nightmare for Ross Barkley. On as sub, insisted on taking the penalty when Jorginho and Willian wanted it. In-form Tammy Abraham right there too. “No, no”... Annoyed Willian stays to pull socks up in front of him.... Barkley fires penalty over bar. Chelsea 0-1 Valencia FT. #cfc pic.twitter.com/Pj9BmEEPAt
— Jacqui Oatley (@JacquiOatley) September 17, 2019
Key Talking Point
The life of a manager is often a lonely one, something Albert Celades found out the hard way less than a week into his tenure at Valencia. In a rumoured protest at the sacking of his popular predecessor Marcelino, the Valencia players refused to attend pre-match media duties alongside him - not ideal.
Cutting a lone figure, Celades did his best to put a brave face on things and stated that: "The reaction I’ve had has been very good and I’m sure it will continue to improve. The spirit is very good. (Tuesday) is the start of the best club competition in Europe and that is ample motivation for the players to give their best."
Albert Celades heads to Valencia’s Champions League press conference solo.The players refused to send a member of the squad to accompany him. pic.twitter.com/3K6JYYGaxC
— Talking LaLiga (@TalkingLaLiga) September 16, 2019
If there is player unrest behind the scenes, there were no signs of it in Valencias performance. Two organised banks of four were effective at nullifying Chelseas attacking threat, while they also used a high press at times to prevent Chelsea developing a rhythm. Their attacking players were tireless in their running, as Celades team tried to stretch the Blues on the counter attack.
Starting XI: Cillessen (7); Wass (7), Garay (7), Gabriel (7), Gayá (8), Coquelin (6), Parejo (8), Kondogbia (7), Cheryshev (6), Rodrigo (8*), Gameiro (6)
Subs: Gomez (6), Lee (4), Diakhaby (4)
Smash and grab it may have been, but goalscorer Rodrigo was the heartbeat of Valencias good work and all of their best attacking football came through him.
He dropped deep to link up with his teammates, trying to spring the offside trap and release them behind the Chelsea defence. His instinctive finish was cool and collected on a night when he received limited service.
Chelsea face away trips to Lille and Ajax in their next two Champions League fixtures, so will disappointed to have dropped all three points here.
Domestically, the Blues begin three consecutive home games by welcoming Liverpool to Stamford Bridge this Sunday. Grimsby and Brighton follow in Carabao Cup and Premier League action, respectively.
Valencia, meanwhile, face Ajax at home and Lille away in their upcoming Group H matches. Domestically, Celades has two arguably winnable home games as Leganes and Getafe visit Mestalla.