Valencia 2-2 Chelsea
Chelsea will have to wait to clinch their spot in the Champions League round of 16 as they were held to a 2-2 draw in their action-packed crunch match at Valencia.
The Blues were leading 2-1 and looked bound for the knockout round, but a fortuitous late goal gave the hosts a share of the spoils.
Despite the draw, Chelsea are still in control of their own destiny in what is a very tight Group H. A home win over Lille in their final group game would send them through no matter what.
As for Valencia, their last-16 hopes are still alive, although the Champions League 2019 odds will be against them when they take on group leaders Ajax.
Highlights of the game
Chelsea wasted little time as they had the first real chance of the match inside two minutes. Reece James — who scored the equaliser in their wild 4-4 draw against Ajax — delivered a dangerous first-time cross into the six-yard box, which Willian came to attack. But the Brazilian got his header all wrong as he failed to hit the target from point-blank range.
Jorginho then attempted to find Christian Pulisic with a ball over the top of the Valencia defence, although it was just beyond the reach of the young American.
Valencia finally had their first notable attack on 19 minutes, and it really should’ve resulted in the opening goal of the game. Dani Parejo released Daniel Wass with lovely through ball. The Dane squared the ball off to Maxi Gomez, only for the Valencia striker completely missed his kick.
Gomez had another great goalscoring chance fall to him on the half-hour mark. He made contact this time around, but he was unable to even force Chelsea keeper Kepa to make a save as he blazed his shot well wide.
N’Golo Kante, who scored on his Chelsea return against Manchester City, had a great chance to add another to his tally, but the Frenchman fired his shot wide despite being completely unmarked.
Chelsea had another glorious opportunity to go ahead when Tammy Abraham’s instinctive shot looked destined for the top corner. However, Valencia keeper Jasper Cillessen made a brilliant reaction save to deny the young English striker.
How crucial that saved turned out to be, as just a couple of minutes later, Valencia were in front. Rodrigo’s brilliant cross from the right wing found Carlos Soler, who made a late run to the box reminiscent of Chelsea boss Frank Lampard in his pomp. Kepa got a glove to the shot but was just unable to keep it out.
However, the hosts’ lead would be short-lived as Chelsea struck back instantly. Mateo Kovacic capitalised on Valencia’s inability to clear their lines as he stroked the ball right into the bottom corner, just beyond the reach of the outstretched Cillessen.
Kovacic very nearly got a second just a couple of minutes later. After some great play by Pulisic to set him up, Kovacic found himself one-on-one with Cillessen. But the Valencia keeper was comfortably able to parry Kovacic’s first-time shot at his near post.
But Chelsea would eventually pull ahead five minutes after the break as Pulisic latched onto a Kurt Zouma header and poked the ball into the net. After another lengthy VAR review, Pulisic was deemed onside and the goal stood.
Valencia responded well to going behind and really should’ve equalised within seven minutes through Rodrigo Moreno. But the Spaniard overhit his attempted chip after Kepa had gone off his line.
And just five minutes later, they would be awarded a penalty as Jorginho was adjudged to have impeded Gaya in the box. Up stepped Parejo to take the crucial spot kick, but the usually reliable Valencia skipper was denied by his Spanish compatriot Kepa.
But while there was a touch of misfortune with the penalty miss, lady luck was very much smiling at Valencia as they equalised in the most freakish of circumstances. Wass’ attempted first-time cross from the right wing cannoned off the inside of the post and into the net.
Chelsea very nearly had their own incredibly fortunate goal to clinch an improbable win on 89 minutes. Michy Batshuayi’s shot took a wicked deflection off a Valencia defender, but Cillessen was able to make a crucial save with his legs.
There looked to be one last twist in this topsy turvy game as Valencia had one last glorious chance to steal all three points in stoppage time. Gaya’s excellent cross found its way to Rodrigo, who once again missed a gilt-edged chance to win it at the death.
Based on the statistics, it seemed like a draw was the fair result. The two sides split possession, 50-50. They both created a number of Champions League 2019 highlights and were also very close in terms of total shots; Valencia finished with the slight edge, 18-16.
Both sides finished with six shots on goal, although there could have been more if Rodrigo had had his shooting boots on.
Valencia, who have now gone winless in their last two, will look to get back to winning ways when they host Villarreal this weekend. Prior to their draw against Chelsea, Los Che had won three of their last four matches at the Mestalla.
As for Chelsea, they will have a relatively easy assignment as they host a struggling West Ham side that’s winless in its last eight, with six defeats. Needless to say, the SBOBET odds will be heavily favouring a win for the Blues at the Bridge.
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