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UEFA Champions League

  • 28 September 2011
  • • 19:45
  • • Estadio de Mestalla, Valencia
  • Referee: N. Rizzoli
  • • Attendance: 33791

Valencia 1-1 Chelsea: Kalou handball gifts late Soldado penalty to deny Blues after second-half Lampard strike

Valencia 1-1 Chelsea: Kalou handball gifts late Soldado penalty to deny Blues after second-half Lampard strike

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Blues had led in Spain from the returning veteran midfielder, but a masterclass from keeper Diego Alves denied them victory in the Mestalla

A late Roberto Soldado penalty denied Frank Lampard the perfect return to the Chelsea team, as his second-half strike was cancelled out, with his side having to settle for a 1-1 draw away at Valencia.

Solomon Kalou was the villain of the piece for Chelsea fans as his handball in the 85th minute from a corner led to the equaliser, after seemingly forgotten veteran midfielder looked to have won it with a neat finish which capped a fine personal performance.

Chelsea started the game well, and had an early penalty claim turned down after Fernando Torres appeared to be brought down, though in truth it was a poor first touch from the striker and he should have been able to get a shot away before the tackle came in.

And though the Spanish side began to get the ball under control as the game progressed, they were perhaps a little fortunate not to be a man down after 15 minutes as Ramires was fouled following a great burst from midfield.

The Brazilian was rounding Victor Ruiz who appeared to be the last defender as he was brought down, but the referee judged that the covering defender Jordi Alba was close enough for the tackle not to warrant a red card.

The free-kick bought about Chelsea's only real effort of the first half, as Lampard drilled his shot low and away from the wall, only to be denied by Alves.

In truth, the game stagnated after that, though Valencia looked perhaps the more likely to score of the two teams, though Chelsea's defence stood strong and left Petr Cech with little to do.

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Five minutes into the second half, however, the match sprang into life, with chances at either end in the space of seconds with Valencia keeper Alves in stunning form to keep the scores level in a frantic opening.

Torres was the first to go close with a header from Jose Bosingwa's sweeping cross, only to find Alves on top form to keep the ball out.

Valencia broke and Soldado came within inches of connecting with Pablo's cross from the right, but for John Terry's timely intervention.

Lampard then imposed himself on the match, playing a fine through ball to Ramires, who looked for all the world that he would keep calm in front of the goalkeeper, as he did twice on Saturday against Swansea, but he took too long and fired straight at Alves.

A minute later Valencia's shot stopper made another top class stop to prevent Torres from opening the scoring, as Lampard again found his team-mate with a wonderful pass, but after controlling the ball and volleying it from close range, Alves managed to deny the Londoners again.

From the resulting corner, Ruiz almost put through his own net, but Alves yet again came to the rescue, getting down to his left to push the ball away - as the keeper continued to excel.

And finally a minute later, the Blues opened the scoring through Lampard, who offered the perfect response to the recent criticisms surrounding him.

The midfielder showed good positional play to make sure he was free towards the back post as Florent Malouda's cut-back from the right came in, and Lampard drove the ball into the bottom corner with his first touch, a classy finish.

Following the goal, Valencia started to make a go of it, testing Petr Cech for the first real time as Soldado went through on goal, though his first touch wasn't the best which allowed the keeper time to collect at his feet.

Pablo Piatti, the second half substitute was next to test the Chelsea keeper, as he raced through to chest the ball down and volley from a tight angle with Cech tipping it over.

Feghouli then came close straight after his introduction from the bench, and Piatti hit another shot just wide moments later.

And with five minutes left to play, the match was turned on it's head.

Jonas forced a great save from Cech, who was at full stretch to tip the ball around the post. From the corner, Kalou needlessly led with his arm when attempting to clear, and the hosts were awarded ta penalty which was coolly dispatched by Soldado.

But the drama wasn't over, as Kalou sent Nicolas Anelka through on goal, but the Frenchman could only find the legs of Diego Alves, who had been near untouchable in the Valencia goal.

A draw was perhaps a touch harsh on Chelsea, who had done the lion's share of attacking, but Valencia had forced themselves back into the game well after going one behind and ultimately deserved a point.