Valencia loss makes progress for Chelsea a much tougher prospect, Lampard concedes
Frank Lampard admits Chelsea's route to the Champions League knock out stages has become far more complicated after their opening group stage defeat to Valencia.
The Chelsea boss, hoping to rekindle his love affair with the competition which he says gave him the greatest thrill of his career with the Blues' 2012 triumph, was left frustrated by a 1-0 defeat.
His team dominated but were undone by sloppy marking at a free-kick, which allowed Rodrigo to poach the only goal of the game, 15 minutes from time. A penalty miss by Ross Barkley late on compounded the disappointment.
“Yeah, for sure,” he said when asked whether it has become that much tougher to qualify now.
“That’s the reality of losing a game at home, first game and makes those [next two] games [Lille and Ajax] more important, particularly as they come back to back away from home.
"There are league games in the meantime, but we need a strong focus on those games to try to get a result in one of them before we make it really, really tough for ourselves.
"In context, it’s still one game done and it’s still a group that I think teams will take points off each other because all the teams are strong and will fancy themselves.
"There is certainly no reason to be too downbeat now, but we need to win games."
Lampard, who is still looking for a first home win since returning to Stamford Bridge as boss, played down apparent uncertainty over who should take the penalty which should have salvaged a point. Both Willian and Jorginho appeared keen to take the kick, but Barkley was always the designated taker, according to the Blues boss.
“Ross is the penalty taker,” he said. “He 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.
“I don’t know what the conversation was, but Jorginho and Willian were the takers on the pitch, when Ross comes on he becomes the penalty taker, and he missed it.”
He felt Chelsea “without a doubt” ought to have got something from the match.
“Probably a win, at least a draw,” he said. “I think we created enough in the game, not lots of fantastic chances, but good chances. Obviously a penalty and we conceded from the one shot on target, so harsh lesson in Champions League football.
“A game we played pretty well in, and we lose it. Good news is we have five games left in the group, but we should have got more tonight.”
Chelsea will soon discover the extent of an injury suffered by Mason Mount which forced the midfielder off the field early on.
“He has got an ankle injury, we don’t know how bad it is, we are going to have to assess it in the next 24-48 hours to see the scale of the injury,” Lampard said.
“It’s too soon to say, obviously it was a shame because he was playing so well and started well and we had to make the change early.”