Valencia miss chance to advance after being held in a 4-goal thriller with Chelsea

Match Report
Valencia (2)Chelsea (2)
Barragan Carlos Soler 40′
Daniel Wass 82′
Mateo Kovacic 41′
Christian Pulisic 50′

Deep into stoppage time, Jose Gaya looks up and swings a sublime cross from the left directly onto the path of Rodrigo. Faced with an open goal, the forward should have tucked it in neatly from six yards out.

But he did the more difficult thing and blasts it across the gaping goal instead.

The miss summed up a night of mixed emotions for Valencia. On the one hand, they battled Chelsea to a pulsating draw, coming from behind to keep their Champions League’s hopes alive.

On the other, they missed a glut of chances on a wild night of attacking football, including a penalty, which would have sealed their progress to the knock-out stages.

Said Albert Celades: “The sensation in our dressing room is that we have missed a very good chance to qualify for the next round. But to get to the last game with our fate in our hands is not bad.”

Still, Celades would have been pleased with the performance, one which saw the team match an energetic and youthful Chelsea side.

Indeed, anchored by the roaming Kante, Mateo Kovačić and Christian Pulisic pulled the strings for Chelsea’s midfield, testing and probing Los Che’s defence early on.

But it was Valencia who would strike first. Academy graduate Carlos Soler slot in a 40th minute goal, after a neat pass from Rodrigo on the right.

Two minutes later, Kovačić equalised after Valencia failed to clear a cross from the left. Pulisic extended Chelsea’s lead, after a knock-down from Kurt Zouma.

But like many other times this season, Los Che didn’t give up, summoning up another comeback, backed by the vociferous Mestalla faithful.

It was this tenacity that saw them win a penalty in the 65th min, with Jorginho seeming to have fouled Gaya in a tangle of legs down the left side of the box.

Having scored six penalties so far, Dani Parejo should have scored but he scuffed the chance to go level, his shot palmed away by Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Valencia were handed a lifeline in the 82nd minute, thanks to a freak goal by Daniel Wass. What started off as a deep cross from the right ended up curling over Kepa’s head and into the top corner. 2-2.

It should have been 3-2, had Rodrigo did the simpler thing of tapping the ball into the goal. Instead of wild celebrations, Valencia now faces the daunting prospect of going to the Johan Cruyff Arena to carve out a win.

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