Brendon Netto looks back on a game in which Fernando Torres dominated and finally looked like a £50 million striker.
The full-time whistle in West London on Sunday night was followed by an unfamiliar chant resonating around Stamford Bridge, a chant that echoed just the one name – “Torres”. There have been a couple of signs that Fernando Torres may be turning a corner, but in a crunch match against the might of Manchester City, the Spaniard unequivocally exploded onto the scene and stamped his mark on a 2-1 win for Chelsea that elevated them to 2nd place in the Premier League.
Torres started the game ever so brightly but for a brief moment in the first half, you may have wondered if his demons were back to haunt him. Ramires’ ball forward found the striker in acres of space with only Joe Hart to beat. Time seemed to stand still as Torres lashed at the bouncing ball that looped over the cross-bar, much to the agony of the Chelsea fans and players alike. But that was just the start of an action-packed five-minute period for the 29 year-old.
Full of drive and determination, Torres squared off against Gael Clichy down the right flank moments after his glaring miss. Somewhat strangely, the left-back seemed to show the striker down the line and the Chelsea man obliged without hesitance as he stormed past the Frenchman, fending him off all the while, and slid the ball across the face of the goal for Andre Schurrle to finish from a couple of yards out.
Schurrle put Chelsea ahead from Torres' cross
The home support had barely caught their breath but Torres offered them no respite. The game had only just restarted when Chelsea’s number 9 surged down the left flank with purpose, coasting past a couple of players. Once in the box, he checked back onto his right foot and with hardly any space to maneuver, beat Joe Hart all ends up with a fierce strike that rattled the cross-bar.
His wasn’t the only good performance in the first half but certainly the central one. Chelsea were all over City in the opening period, affording their midfielders precious little time on the ball. Their work-rate, desire and speed in attack were unmatched and although the visitors threatened on a couple of occasions, the first 45 minutes were comprehensively won by Jose Mourinho’s troops.
Sergio Aguero however, was the City player who looked the most likely to score and he justified that theory three minutes into the second half with his side emerging from the tunnel as the more lively of the two teams.
The Argentine’s perfectly timed run allowed him to latch onto Samir Nasri’s through ball and although he was sent a little wide with Gary Cahill for company, his quick left-footed strike took everyone by surprise, including Petr Cech in goal as the ball flew in at the near post.
Aguero caught Chelsea off-guard after the break
The balance of the game shifted a bit with the second period panning out to be a far more even contest but one thing remained from the first half and that was Torres’ level of performance. Even with less service, the striker never drifted out of the game entirely. He looked eager to win back the ball, he was strong when it was played up to him, won headers, ran at defenders and earned free-kicks. To put it simply, he was a livewire upfront and he never stopped moving.
This was a refreshing sight of Fernando Torres, Chelsea’s Fernando Torres not the one that took the Premier League by storm at Liverpool but one that has had ups and downs, been ridiculed and criticized extensively but hardened by his experiences nonetheless. He was determined to leave everything on the pitch and played like it was a cup final, pestering defenders and chasing down lost causes. As it happens, one of those seemingly ‘lost causes’ turned out to be all-important.
In the 90th minute, when tired legs and minds rise to prominence, Torres was still the sharpest on the field, certainly more so than Matija Nastasic or Hart at least. He chased down an aimless punt forward, one that Nastasic was always favourite to reach first. However, the England number 1 misread the situation and came off his line to deal with the ball only for his team-mate to miss his wild intentions and head the ball past him. Torres was then on hand to catch up to the loose ball and steer it into the empty net.
Torres' relentless effort paid off
It was a mistake that could’ve been avoided but one that was only made possible by the Spaniard’s relentless pursuit of the ball even in the final minute of the game.
“Every ball can be the most important ball in the game.” – Fernando Torres after beating City 2-1Torres put in an inspired performance and one most deserving of a Man of the Match award. More importantly, it seemed like the world-class striker Chelsea were desperate to land in the summer through their pursuit of Wayne Rooney in particular, had instead resurrected from within their ranks.
|Is Torres back for good? Send in your thoughts in the comments below or discuss with the writer on Twitter @BrendonNetto.|
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