Chelsea fell to a 1-0 home defeat in their Champions League opener against Valencia on Tuesday night, and the main talking point was Ross Barkley’s missed penalty.
Barkley blazed a spot-kick over the bar in the 87th minute, missing the opportunity to equalise and earn a deserved point for Chelsea on the night.
The midfielder was involved in discussions with Willian and Jorginho – two of Chelsea’s more accomplished penalty takers – before stepping up, leading to suggestions of there being a debate around who should have taken it.
In the aftermath of the game, Chelsea’s players, manager Frank Lampard and some ex-pros commented on the situation, while Tammy Abraham sent out a warning to Liverpool.
Here’s everything you need to know about the incident and reaction.
Was it a penalty and why did Barkley take it?
Chelsea’s appeals were initially waved away when Fikayo Tomori’s header appeared to strike the arm of Valencia’s Daniel Wass six minutes from time, but referee Cuneyt Cakir was told to watch the incident again by the VAR.
Cekir subsequently overturned his original decision and pointed to the spot. All penalty calls are ultimately subjective, of course, but it appears the referee was right to change his mind on this occasion.
After a short debate, Jorginho appeared to give Barkley his blessing to take it, though Willian looked slightly less pleased about being told to step away.
In his post-match press conference, Lampard confirmed that Barkley – who came on as a second-half substitute – is the first-choice penalty taker when on the pitch.
Lampard said: “Ross is the penalty taker. He was in pre-season, scored a couple, has been when he’s started and was today when he came on and missed it.
“I don’t know what the conversation was but Jorginho and Willian were the penalty takers on the pitch, and when Ross comes on he becomes the penalty taker – and he missed it.”
What have Barkey’s teammates had to say?
Speaking to reporters after the defeat, Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta reiterated Barkley’s penalty credentials and suggested that Jorginho, who has only missed one penalty in his career, and Tammy Abraham were encouraging him to score, not debating who should take it.
“Ross is one of the best penalty takers in the team,” Azpilicueta said. “He is one of the first to take one and he had the confidence to shoot. I think he was unlucky hitting the bar and of course he will be disappointed because we could have got a point at the end.
“[Jorginho and Abraham] were encouraging him to have the confidence to score. There was high expectation so everyone was trying to take him into the best condition.
“At the end of the game, a penalty can be decisive and unfortunately this time it went wrong for us. Hopefully next time he scores.”
Willian later admitted he indeed wanted to take the spot-kick but ultimately accepted Barkley’s decision, despite the miss.
“I wanted to take it but he was confident to take it,” the Brazilian added.
“This is football. He missed the penalty but it could be me that missed, or Jorginho or whoever. So football is like this. But when we win, we win together, and when we lose, we lose together.”
Meanwhile, Abraham revealed Barkley was comforted by his teammates and insisted Chelsea are eager to take their “anger” at the defeat out on Liverpool.
Abraham said: “We’ve all comforted him, even on the pitch after he missed. It happens, and Ross is an experienced player, he’s scored so many penalties, he’s scored so many goals. So we just have to focus on Sunday and forget about it.
“We have to move on. We can’t dwell on a loss. We have another massive game on Sunday that we have to focus on. We just have to take our anger out against Liverpool.”
Barkley labelled “disrespectful” to his teammates
Eider Gudjohnsen pulled no punches when asked about the incident, telling BT Sport that Barkley was “disrespectful” in creating unnecessary tension before the penalty was taken.
“It’s almost disrespectful to your teammates to do something like what Ross Barkley did this evening,” Gudjohnsen said. “I’m pretty sure it’s clear who is the penalty taker before the game.
“Just to create all the fuss, the tension between your teammates and yourself and then go on to miss the penalty, you just put yourself under so much more pressure than actually just taking a penalty.”
It appears the former Chelsea striker didn’t know Barkley was the designated taker, as revealed by Lampard in the post-match press conference, but Gudjohnsen also criticised Azpilicueta for not taking control of the situation as captain.
He added: “If you’re the manager in a situation like this, where you’ve got one, two, three, four players standing over the ball, and there is a question on who is going to take the penalty, don’t you want your captain to step in and say, ‘Listen, it’s been decided before the game who is the penalty taker’?
“Show that authority as the captain to make the decision for everyone who’s on the pitch.”
Chelsea’s next game, against Liverpool, takes place at Stamford Bridge, where Lampard is yet to win as a manager. Several other results would have to go the Blues’ way, but a win would take them up to second. In any case, earning three points against the only Premier League team with a 100% win record this season so far would reduce the gap on the leaders to a minimum of four.