A Valencia penalty in the dying minutes of the game denied Chelsea a third win out of three visits to the Mestalla. Frank Lampard, with his 20th Champions League goal, had given the Blues a second-half lead deserved on chances created.
After a tight first half of few opportunities created, both keepers put in star performances in the second half, Valencia's Diego Alves in particular with a strong claim to be man of the match. Fernando Torres was denied with one special stop and after the home team had levelled, Nicolas Anelka could have won it for the Blues but for the keeper's good form.
On his first start in three games and following his manager answering numerous questions on the player in the pre-match press conference, Lampard was always going to be a good bet for first goal in this game, and although he made it look simple, the accuracy achieved with a first-time srike on a ball coming across the pitch is worth appreciating.
Andre Villas-Boas made one change in each of the defence, midfield and attack, bringing in David Luiz for Branislav Ivanovic, Frank Lampard for Raul Meireles and Florent Malouda for Nicolas Anelka. Malouda played on the left with Juan Mata switching to the right.
Valencia were able to welcome back their captain David Albelda back into their midfield. He missed their weekend defeat at Sevilla.
Valencia looked to have anything but a solid defence in the opening five minutes. First they gifted the ball to Fernando Torres but the Spaniard took a strong touch as he raced towards goal and then couldn't win a chase with the last defender. Malouda then benefitted from similar generosity by Ever Banega and as he tried to thread the ball through to crowd to Ramires in the area, it was cleared for a corner that keeper Diego Alves punched away very unconvincingly.
Valencia put together a couple of promising moves with Sergio Canales at the heart of them but Petr Cech was able to deal with the end results before Chelsea broke from the back, David Luiz sending Ramires haring into their half. Having beaten one player, a great run was ended by a foul from centre-back Victor Ruiz who could have been judged last man by a harsher ref. Instead he was shown yellow and Chelsea didn't capitalise from the free-kick that Lampard hit too straight.
Chelsea survived a couple of Valencia corners midway through the half and although the home side were finding space with intelligent movement when they went forward, they weren't creating chances.
That was until Alba got forward from left-back with Ramires briefly off the field for treatment. His ball into the near post was struck first time by Soldado but happily into the sidenetting. That was a close as either side came to scoring in the first 45 minutes.
Both sides enjoyed spells in possession and it needed Terry at his most defiant when centre-forward Soldado was threatening to find the room to shoot. Cech continued to gather speculative balls into his six-yard box.
Mata, who had been quiet on his return to the Mestalla, played one of the passes of the game so far as half-time approached, across the pitch to Cole who headed into what could have been the danger zone but for the lack of blue shirts.
Pablo Hernandez spun sharply and tested Cech from distance before the half came to a close but our keeper had not been truly extended by the interval, and Chelsea in what looked our toughest fixture at the start of the group stage could be satisfied with that.
It was all about the Valencia keeper Diego Alves at the start of the second period. Firstly he pulled off a marvellous diving save to keep out Torres's firm header after Bosingwa's cross had found our number 9 just six yards out. Then moments later he stood up and saved from Ramires who had used great pace to make the most of a Lampard pass and really should have scored.
The one-man defence continued with another save from Torres followed by a stop with his foot when Valencia defender Victor Ruiz could only divert a hard, low cross at his own goal.
There was, however, nothing Alves could do except stand rooted on 56 minutes when Malouda's right-foot ball across the box fell to Lampard, just inside of the area, and the vice-captain was unerring in his low finish, as he has been so many times before.
That had most certainly been coming although the Valencia threat had also been greater than in the first half, one slightly over-hit cross having a less-than-full Mestalla gasping, and Cech dealing well with an angled shot with the game still scoreless.
Later in the half and with Chelsea by now ahead, Terry was in place to kick clear when Cech had left his goal to address danger and had been bypassed by a cross. Cech did very well on 70 minutes to save from substitute Piatti and Chelsea escaped when Rami planted a header just wide when a cross cleared David Luiz.
Cech saved again from Fegholi and Piatti shot wide with Valencia knowing they were only 15 minutes from defeat and piling on the pressure.
Chelsea could have eased it by scoring a killer goal when Lampard teed up Malouda but his low shot was saveable.
Cech's best save of the game came with just five minutes left on the clock, a full-length effort from Jonas's sweetly struck shot, but the deserved and overdue clean sheet was not to arrive.
Substitute Kalou who had not been long on the pitch was judged to have handled when a corner was delivered into a crowd. He might have been pushed. Soldado converted the penalty.
With 89 mins on the clock, it was Anelka's turn to be kept out by Diego Alves who one-on-one with the Chelsea substitute, saved from close range with his leg.
At the final whistle, Cole and Mata picked up bookings for protesting that a free-kick had not been allowed to be taken. It was a night when a point was not a bad return, but we could have easily taken more.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Bosingwa, D Luiz, Terry (c), Cole; Ramires (Meireles 65), Mikel, Lampard (Kalou 82); Mata, Torres (Anelka 72), Malouda.
Unused subs Turnbull, Ivanovic, Romeu, Drogba.
Scorer Lampard 56
Booked Kalou 86, Malouda 90+2, Mata 90+3, Cole 90+3.
Valencia (4-2-3-1): D Alves; Miguel, Rami, Víctor Ruiz, Jordi Alba; Albelda, Éver (Jonas 72) ; Pablo (Feghouli 72), Canales, Mathieu (Piatti 58); Soldado.
Unused subs Guaita, Bruno Saltor, Maduro, Parejo.
Scorer Soldado pen 86
Booked Victor Ruiz 12, Albelda 46.