Torres has not scored in the Premier League since September and has netted only four times for his club this season but he set up Frank Lampard’s goal with a fabulous scissor kick that rebounded off the bar and had two strong penalty appeals rejected in the second half when he caused havoc at times with his pace and strong running.
“His performance was good,” said Villas-Boas of the Spaniard in his post-match press conference. “He is getting a good run of games, finding inspiration, motivation and solidarity, as all the team and the fans are behind him.
“It is good to see him picking up confidence and assisting people. He hasn’t been scoring but he is getting nearer all the time.”
Asked if Torres needs a goal to be considered back to have rediscovered top form, Villas-Boas shook his head. “I don’t think so. As long as he helps the team to win games, we are happy with him.”
The Portuguese also had warm words for Lampard, who has had a difficult relationship with his manager this season and was substituted with 17 minutes left despite scoring his ninth league goal of the season and 11th in total.
Villas-Boas observed: “Frank is always a player who has this amazing timing of arrival. It is no accident that he is one of the best goal-scoring midfielders in the world. He will continue to threaten all Chelsea records for the future. He has broken all the recent records for appearances and goals. It is good for him.”
Lampard was replaced by Michael Essien, who made his first appearance of the season after breaking his anterior cruciate ligament in pre-season training.
“You have to congratulate our medical department,” said Villas-Boas. “They have reduced Michael’s return to the team by a month, month-and-a-half. To see him back so quick and with such quality is outstanding. It is all down to the medical department and a player’s willingness to come back.”
The Chelsea boss was in a buoyant mood after watching his team consolidate fourth position in the league and climb within six points of third-placed Tottenham.
He said: “For us to put an end to Sunderland’s amazing run of form was always going to take an incredible effort from us and it happened over 90 minutes.
“Both teams created good chances in a good, entertaining match, which was an important match for us, bearing in mind the result makes us shorten the distance to Tottenham and extend the distance from Liverpool.
“You always want your team to be more in control but the opponent on such a good run creates problems. We left the game on the edge, which made things more difficult but we showed great spirit and solidarity to hold on to the result.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea are close to finalising the £7 million signing of Gary Cahill from Bolton Wanderers, a deal that Villas-Boas says “should be completed tomorrow [Sunday], I think”.
However, the club have not reached an agreement to sell centre-back Alex to QPR, despite reports today that a bid had been accepted.
Villas-Boas said: “There is an offer and it is not far off. We know Alex's market value. We are not going to let him go easily. He is a player that has attracted interest from Premier League clubs and abroad."