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Valencia salvages 2-2 draw with Chelsea in Champions League

November 27, 2019
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Valencia's players celebrate after scoring the opening goal during the Champions League group H soccer match between Valencia and Chelsea at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
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Valencia's players celebrate after scoring the opening goal during the Champions League group H soccer match between Valencia and Chelsea at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

VALENCIA, Spain (AP) — Christian Pulisic’s third Champions League goal and Kepa Arrizabalaga’s penalty save weren’t enough to secure Chelsea a spot in the knockout stage of the European competition on Wednesday.

Daniel Wass’ fortuitous goal in the 82nd minute gave Valencia a 2-2 draw and kept the English club from making it to the round of 16 with a game to spare.

Wass’ angled cross from the right flank curled over Arrizabalaga and hit the far post before going in for the equalizer.

“It certainly was a fluke,” Chelsea coach Frank Lampard said. “It makes it more difficult for the keeper. I think it came too high for him.”

Kepa had saved Dani Parejo’s penalty kick in the 65th, after Pulisic put Chelsea ahead with the American midfielder’s sixth goal in seven matches in all competitions.

Valencia opened the scoring through Carlos Soler in the 40th and Mateo Kovacic equalized for the visitors less than a minute later with a goal awarded after video review.

The result left Valencia and Chelsea tied for second place in Group H with eight points, two fewer than Ajax, which defeated last-place Lille 2-0 in France.

In the last round on Dec. 10, Chelsea hosts Lille and Valencia plays at Ajax.

A win would have been enough for Chelsea to advance to the knockout round in advance.

“We nearly won it, we nearly lost it,” Lampard said. “Let’s be straight, it’s not easy to come here. It keeps it in our hands and we have to be happy with that.”

It was an open match at Mestalla Stadium, with Valencia and Chelsea squandering good scoring opportunities throughout the game. The final minutes were especially hectic, with both teams failing to capitalize on chances to win the game.

“There were chances both ways, but we had the better ones and we could not convert them into goals,” Valencia coach Albert Celades said.

Valencia forward Maxi Gómez and Rodrigo had some of the best opportunities, including a close-range shot by Rodrigo that went wide deep into second-half stoppage time. Gómez whiffed a shot with only the goalkeeper to beat in the first half. Valencia goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen made a few key saves to keep Chelsea from adding more goals.

Kepa made a superb save on Parejo’s penalty kick, stretching out his left arm to swat the ball away. It was Parejo’s second penalty miss at Mestalla in the group stage this season, with the other coming in the match against Ajax.

“It wasn’t a standard penalty save,” Lampard said. “It was a fantastic one.”

Soler put Valencia on the board with a close-range strike, with the ball touching both of his legs before going in.

Chelsea answered right away with Kovacic’s low shot from outside the area, and Pulisic put the visitors ahead by poking the ball across the line following a loose ball inside the area. The goal was initially disallowed for offside but the call was reversed after video review.

Pulisic’s other goals in the European tournament came against Benfica in 2016-17 and vs. Club Brugge last season on his 20th birthday. He was coming off a run of five goals in his last four Premier League matches.

Valencia’s 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge earlier this season was the team’s only win against Chelsea in eight Champions League matches.

Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham had to be replaced before halftime with a hip injury that appeared to be serious. Lampard later said the player was “hopeful” it was “not as severe as first feared.”

Valencia defender José Luis Gayá needed to be attended by doctors after the match after appearing to pass out on the field. He had to leave on a stretcher but apparently recovered a few minutes later.

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