Frank Lampard can’t rouse Chelsea from their slumber as his first European game in charge ends in disappointing defeat by Valencia
- Chelsea were beaten 1-0 by Valencia at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening
- Frank Lampard tried to get a response from his players but failed to do so
- He will know this was a huge opportunity missed with tough games to come
- Ross Barkley missed a penalty late on as Lampard’s frustrating night continued
Together, Frank Lampard and the Chelsea fans rose as one.
Rodrigo had just sent shockwaves around Stamford Bridge with a goal that silenced all but the tiny pocket of travelling fans.
Suddenly Lampard, who had spent most of the night with his arms crossed, stood up from his seat, clapped his players and demanded more from his side. The crowd did their best to rouse a response, too.
Frank Lampard looks frustrated on the touchline during Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat by Valencia
Rodrigo scored the only goal as Lampard’s first European game in charge failed to go to plan
But nothing doing. As the clock ticked, he grew ever more agitated, appealing every decision, living every moment.
But when VAR eventually answered his prayers, there was no big celebration. When Ross Barkley’s penalty hit the bar, he simply turned back to his bench. The resignation was written all over his face.
There will be much tougher tests than this. That is what will most frustrate the Chelsea manager.
On Tuesday night Valencia showed in flashes why they could cause any side problems in this season’s Champions League. But at Stamford Bridge they also showed why they’re currently 13th in La Liga.
With tricky trips to Lille and Ajax to come, Lampard will know this is a chance wasted.
The evening had begun with such optimism. A year ago, Lampard watched as Derby were held to a frustrating goalless draw at home to Blackburn. On Tuesday night, he oversaw his first Champions League match as manager.
Lampard won the Champions League with Chelsea as a player in Munich back in May, 2012
Lampard was serenaded before kick-off and even made time for the Chelsea mascots, who took it in turns to high-five their smiling manager.
But his face grew sterner, his body language more animated as Chelsea failed to press home their advantage in the first half.
Their cause had not been helped by the early injury to Mason Mount. Lampard embraced the midfielder, who looked close to tears as he made his way from the field. But even a hug and a few words in his ear could do little to console the devastated Mount.
Lampard tries to comfort Mason Mount after the midfielder was forced off with an injury
In the second half, back and forth Lampard paced between the touchline and his dugout, as Valencia dug in and an increasing sense of urgency engulfed Stamford Bridge.
As in the first half, the visitors grew into the game and Lampard simply sat and watched as the game hung on a knife edge as Marcos Alonso saw a free-kick well saved shortly before Valencia’s Kevin Gameiro fired over from a corner.
He sent for the cavalry – Barkley, Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud ordered to warm up as Lampard searched for answers. Instead it was Rodrigo who made the difference.
His side kept pressing for an equaliser, but Lampard could do little more than watch cross-armed once more. It really was one of those nights.