How Valencia CF must dislike facing Chelsea FC. Last night saw another stirring performance, another goal advantage, but ultimately another disappointing defeat for the Spanish side. Captain David Albeda summed up the emotions in the dressing room when he mixed praise for his team with respect for the strength of their UEFA Champions League opponent.
'A great contest'
"We had a big team in front of us tonight, everyone knows that," he said. "Even if they are not playing so well in the Premier League, they are still able to win in any stadium. But we must not be too disappointed because we have played a really good match. It's a shame of course but these things happen in football. We have to live with it. It was a great contest between two very good teams. It was very close, it turned on small moments. In so many ways it reminded me of the game we had with them last season. We had more of the ball than Chelsea but in the second half maybe we defended too much."
Goalscorer David Villa said the difference was that the visitors had been able to take their chances. "With two small openings, Chelsea have won the game," he said. "But we gave everything and the fans know that." Joaquín also refused to be disheartened, saying: "We have not been worse than Chelsea. They have scored with the only opportunities they had but we were superior to them in the first half."
In a breathless opening, Quique Sánchez Flores' team were immediately on the offensive, testing the stability of a defence in which captain John Terry took his customary place even though he had undergone surgery for a fractured cheekbone at the weekend. They seized an early breakthrough via Villa's speed and intelligence and the aid of a lucky deflection which put him in the clear. However, Chelsea responded superbly and just as in last season's quarter-final triumph at the Mestalla they overturned the deficit to strike a notable victory.
It was a disappointing outcome for Albeda and his team especially since the victory at FC Schalke 04 and Chelsea's home draw with Rosenborg BK had appeared to open the way for them to take control of Group B. They will be hoping to improve their position against the Norwegians in the next two fixtures and Albeda stressed the importance of putting this setback behind them sooner rather than later. "We have to move on and make sure that when we go to Chelsea [on Matchday 6] that we take more of our opportunities," he said. "We still have a good chance of qualifying for the next round."
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