Analysis

Lampard reports on being ‘happy to a degree’ after keeping Champions League qualification hopes in our own hands

Frank Lampard said beforehand that our trip to Valencia in the Champions League was a ‘must-not-lose’ game so he was relatively pleased in the aftermath of a thrilling draw in the Mestalla.

The Blues came from behind to lead thanks to goals from Mateo Kovacic, his first for the club, and Christian Pulisic’s sixth in his past seven appearances, and Lampard admitted he had to be happy with collecting a point at a difficult stadium. However, there was also room for improvement as the boss felt we conceded too many chances and did not make the most of the ones we created ourselves.

‘I’m happy to a degree,’ said Lampard at his post-match press conference. ‘We came here to win a match but we obviously respect the opponent, the stadium and the Champions League.

‘It was a really tough match but the draw keeps things in our hands for the last game against Lille. There were positives and negatives from the game but that’s a big positive.’

Frank felt the scoreline could have been much higher as both teams had numerous opportunities to score more.

‘Both teams had incredible chances – it could have finished 5-5. We had one in the first few minutes and a number throughout the first half, but so did they and theirs were maybe more clear-cut.

‘I didn’t love the match. There have not been many times this season where I’ve felt we’ve got away with it but today was one of those days because Valencia missed big opportunities. It does mean you have to show character to see it through to the end and we had a few slices of luck maybe but we also have to score some more of our chances.

‘It was a very unusual match because of the amount of good opportunities for both teams. We have to be happy with a draw because we gave away a lot of opportunities. We’re happy with the result because it was a really tough match.’
 

Kovacic’s first goal in almost three years certainly earned a smile from the boss.

‘We’ve had a lot of jokes between me and him, and the whole squad and him, because he’s a player with such quality that he should be arriving in the box more and he should score more goals.

‘It’s a project for him and for me and for us as staff to get him more goals and he could have scored two today so I’m delighted for him and I hope this is the start of something.’
 

Lampard also reported on Tammy Abraham, who was taken off injured at the break.

‘He’s in the dressing room now. It looked quite severe at half-time, a strong bang on the hip, but the word after the game is it might not be as severe as we thought. That’s all I know.’
 

On the lengthy VAR decision to award our second goal, Frank felt it was a lesson the Premier League could learn from.

‘I don’t think the delay is the problem. In the Premier League, there have been wrong decisions even after the delays and that’s where we need to improve [in England]. If we get the decision right, I don’t think there are too many complaints.’
 

Finally, Lampard was asked about Valencia’s late equaliser, which came innocuously with a cross from the right.

‘It was a fluke because he didn’t mean to score and that makes it difficult for the goalkeeper. The cross came in too high and there was a feeling his hands were pulled away but I’m not sure about that.

‘The best person to ask is Kepa because he’s very honest with himself but we can’t look away from the penalty save because that wasn’t a standard save, it was a top-quality one.’

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