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Valencia sign off with Chelsea stalemate

Published: Wednesday 12 December 2007, 0.30CET
Chelsea FC 0-0 Valencia CF
Chelsea made it 50 home games without defeat in all competitions against visitors who missed out on a UEFA Cup place.
by Trevor Haylett
from Stamford Bridge
Valencia sign off with Chelsea stalemate
Chelsea's Salomon Kalou gets past Raúl Albiol ©Getty Images
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Published: Wednesday 12 December 2007, 0.30CET

Valencia sign off with Chelsea stalemate

Chelsea FC 0-0 Valencia CF
Chelsea made it 50 home games without defeat in all competitions against visitors who missed out on a UEFA Cup place.

Chelsea FC made it 50 home games without defeat in all competitions but this was a frustrating night for the Group B winners as they missed a hatful of chances against a Valencia CF side whose failure to win meant they failed to qualify for the UEFA Cup.

Woodwork struck
It was the first time in ten UEFA Champions League games at Stamford Bridge that the London club failed to find the net, allthough it was not for want of trying as they carved out a succession of presentable opportunities and struck the woodwork three times late on through Salomon Kalou, Claudio Pizarro and Joe Cole. Valencia, meanwhile, needed to win to have any chance of claiming third place in the section, but their inability to do so condemned them to an early exit from Europe this season.

Chelsea take control
Chelsea were in forceful mood at the start and as early as the fourth minute Frank Lampard crossed and Andriy Shevchenko forced a save from Santiago Cañizares, John Terry heading the corner wide. Sunny then failed to deal with Wayne Bridge's cross after a strong run from the Chelsea left-back but Lampard was unable to capitalise, while Cañizares had to hurry to keep out a fierce Shaun Wright-Phillips drive at his near post.

Lampard involved
Twenty-five minutes had elapsed before Petr Čech, surprisingly recalled after his calf injury, was called into serious action but the shot from David Villa demanded little even from a goalkeeper feeling his way back into the action. Pizarro came within centimetres of connecting with Paulo Ferreira's cross and Lampard then unleashed a tasty effort which Cañizares kept out one-handed. There were still possibilities as the ball rolled loose but Kalou's follow-up struck another blue shirt and spun wide.

Valencia threat
Valencia came more into the game as half-time approached but they largely failed to trouble the Chelsea defence with Villa seemingly struggling for his best form and Vicente Rodríguez held in check by the impressive Bridge, although Villa did cleverly engineer an opening that forced Čech to save at his near post. Chelsea responded and the persistent Shevchenko was unlucky to be thwarted before Pizarro forced Cañizares in action.

Changes made
Chelsea coach Avram Grant introduced Claude Makelele for Shevchenko at the break, and only five minutes of the second half had elapsed when Villa hobbled off. The pace had now dropped significantly and neither defence was seriously troubled, Pizarro twice wasting promising openings by straying offside before Lampard was withdrawn two minutes past the hour as Chelsea's thoughts began to turn to Sunday's trip to Arsenal FC.

Late excitement
The home team continued to press forward, however. Pizarro's header found the lurking Kalou but the Ivorian striker could only side-foot against the crossbar. Two minutes later Kalou played in Pizarro but this time the Peruvian's effort was palmed on to the post by Cañizares. Chelsea's night was summed up six minutes from time as Cole drove forward but again the Valencia goalkeeper touched the ball on to the post to ensure the match finished goalless, leaving both teams ruing their luck.

Last updated: 11/12/07 23.43CET

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