Vicente injury clouds Valencia's Champions League draw at Chelsea

Valencia's satisfaction at its 1-1 Champions League draw with Chelsea has been lessened by a potentially serious injury to midfielder Vicente Rodriguez.

Vicente appeared to tear a left thigh muscle in the 55th minute of Wednesday's quarterfinal first leg at Stamford Bridge. He is expected to be sidelined for at least a month, ruling him out of Tuesday's second leg and both legs of the semifinals if Valencia advances.

The 25-year-old Spanish international, who has suffered a series of injuries over the last three seasons, will undergo tests later Thursday if the inflammation around his thigh recedes.

"We'll lose him for a long time. We're annoyed because he brings quality to the team and he can decide games. When he's not with us we try and get by," Valencia coach Quique Sanchez Flores was quoted as saying by news agency Europa Press.

Sanchez Flores said Valencia played worse after Vicente left the field.

"Vicente's absence affected us. We then lost the midfield and had problems at the back. It was a difficult time," he added.

Valencia captain David Albelda said Vicente's gestures suggested he would be sidelined for "a long time."

"It's in an area where he has had a lot of problems in the past. It's a real shame because he's having a very bad year with injuries," Albelda was quoted as saying by sports daily As on Thursday.

Vicente joined Valencia from Levante in 2000 and helped the team win the Spanish league titles in 2002 and 2004 and the UEFA Cup in 2004. He has made 38 international appearances.

Valencia took the lead in the 30th minute through a spectacular long-range shot by David Silva, with Didier Drogba heading Chelsea's equalizer 23 minutes later.

Sanchez Flores said his team had achieved its objective - by giving itself a chance of progressing in the second leg at Mestalla stadium.

"It's at 50 percent and we have to finish it off in front of our own people," the coach said. "It was one of our most complete displays, both in defense and in the good play which allowed to reach their goal."

Valencia is aiming for its third appearance in the Champions League final in the last eight years. It lost to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in 2000 and 2001.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova