Chelsea’s return to the Champions League ended in disappointment as Ross Barkley missed a late penalty that ensured Valencia claimed victory at Stamford Bridge.
Frank Lampard’s first game as a manager in the tournament he won as a player with Chelsea in 2012 turned into a night of frustration as Valencia took advantage of slack marking at a free-kick for Rodrigo to score the winner on 74 minutes.
Chelsea, who lost in-form youngster Mason Mount to injury early on, had the chance to rescue a point when referee Cuneyt Cakir awarded a penalty for handball after consulting VAR when Daniel Wass blocked Fikayo Tomori’s header.
Barkley had only come on as a substitute eight minutes earlier but insisted taking the spot-kick instead of the Blues’ regular taker Jorginho and Willian, who argued his own case to take it before relenting.
It was a tight and tense encounter with chances at a premium and a tricky Group H, which also includes Lille and last year’s semi-finalists Ajax, has got even tougher for Chelsea after starting their campaign with a damaging home loss.
Dries Mertens’ penalty and a late Fernando Llorente goal condemned Liverpool to defeat in their Group E Champions League opener against Napoli.
Belgian forward Mertens scored from the penalty spot after Liverpool defender Andy Robertson was judged to have fouled Jose Callejon.
Former Tottenham forward Llorente then capitalised on a mistake from Virgil van Dijk in stoppage-time to roll the ball past Liverpool keeper Adrian.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are the first winners of the competition to lose the opening game of the following campaign since AC Milan in 1994.
Referee Felix Brych’s decision to award a penalty for Napoli’s opener stood after it was looked at by video assistant referee (VAR) officials.
“I’m pretty sure there are different views on that situation but when a player jumps before there is contact then it cannot be a penalty,” said Klopp.
Erling Braut Haaland became the first teenager to score a hat-trick on his Champions League debut since Wayne Rooney in 2004 as Red Bull Salzburg thrashed the Belgian champions, Genk, 6-2 in the Austrian side’s first match in the competition since 1994. The Yorkshire-born Norway international – the son of the former Nottingham Forest, Manchester City and Leeds midfielder Alf-Inge Haaland – scored his first in only the second minute before the 19-year-old completed his fourth hat-trick of the season before half-time.
History was also made in Germany as the 16-year-old Ansu Fati became the youngest player to feature in a Champions League game for Barcelona but his side needed a penalty save from Marc‑André ter Stegen to rescue a 0-0 draw against Borussia Dortmund. Replays, though, showed Ter Stegen had been off his line when the spot-kick was taken, but there was no video assistant referee review. Barcelona brought Lionel Messi on for the closing stages to replace Fati, for a first appearance of the new season. However, the Argentina forward was not able to help conjure a goal, seeing a stoppage-time effort blocked.
Earlier in Group F, Nicolò Barella scored a stoppage‑time equaliser for Internazionale to rescue a 1-1 draw at home to Slavia Prague.
In Group G, Lyon were held to a 1-1 home draw by Zenit St Petersburg. Memphis Depay’s penalty cancelled out Sardar Azmoun’s first-half opener for the Russian champions, while RB Leipzig defeated Benfica 2-1 in Lisbon.
Last season’s semi-finalists Ajax also made a winning start against Lille in Amsterdam, winning 3-0 to go top of Group H.