Ross Barkley’s late penalty miss turned Frank Lampard’s Champions League managerial debut into a nightmare – but the Chelsea boss insists there’s no hard feelings.
Chelsea crashed to Rodrigo’s late goal in their opening Group H game on Tuesday night – but they could have salvaged a draw.
Fikayo Tomori’s header struck Valencia defender Daniel Wass’s arm with three minutes left – and after an age consulting VAR, Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir gave the spot kick.
Substitute Barkley – only on the pitch for eight minutes – grabbed the ball as Willian and Jorginho, who also take the spot kicks, moved forward and clearly wanted it – but the England midfielder’s kick clipped the bar.
Willian in particular looked angered as Chelsea’s heads dropped – and now they face difficult away trips to Lille and Ajax, with their Group H prospects already looking tough.
However, Lampard insisted: “Ross is a penalty taker and is when he starts games. He took it and missed it.
“It is a great story to say there is contention between players. If he scores it is not a story. But he took it and missed. That is it.
“The disappointment to all of us is that we didn’t get chance to win the game. There is no issue in the dressing room.
“We shouldn’t lose the game. Clearly. At least not lose it. We had a fair few chances. And then the penalty, which we miss. We have to keep our heads up. There is a long way to go. It is a lesson. Teams at this level can hurt you.
“I saw Liverpool lost tonight. This is the Champions League and there are tough games.
“There will be bumps in the road for us with the youth we have and changes we are trying to make. But we need to be strong and be ready with Liverpool here at the weekend.”
Lampard later insisted Barkley is the No 1 penalty taker and was always going to take the kick if he came on: “Ross is the penalty taker, was in pre-season and scored a couple. Has been when he started, was when he came on today and he missed it. That is the clear story.”
Barkley had words with Willian before taking the kick but Lampard said: “I don’t know what the conversation was with the other players – but Jorginho and Willian were the takers on the pitch, when Ross comes on he becomes the penalty taker. And he missed it.”
Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta said: “Ross is one of the best penalty takers in the team and one who takes them. He had the confidence and he was unlucky hitting the bar.
“The other players around him were encouraging him to have the confidence to score. There was high expectation. They were trying to get him into the best condition. Hopefully next time it goes in.”
Valencia coach Albert Celades, in charge for only his second game, said: “It is not easy to come here a get a win at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have some great players – but my team kept going.”
Chelsea have still yet to win at home under Lampard – who suffered yet another blow last night as England youngster Mason Mount limped off injured after only 14 minutes.