Torres is BACK!! Its his fourth goal in four days and except that his brace in UCL against Nordsjaelland was not counted because Chelsea failed to qualify. But this time, his brace indeed payed off with THREE-yes-THREE crucial points after some horrible run of seven matches without a Premier League win and indeed, it is Rafa’s first win under Chelsea.
And Benitez revealed the Spanish forward’s growing confidence by saying Torres had demanded to take the penalty with which he scored his second to double the visitors’ advantage. It was his first penalty he has ever scored in English club football. “We had three players (Hazard, Luiz and Torres) and any of them could take the penalty, but the positive thing for me was he (Torres) had confidence,” said Benitez.
Torres had seven goals in 21 matches in all competitions this season under Roberto Di Matteo, but has now scored four in five games under Benitez, who replaced the Italian last month.
Chelsea threatened immediately from the start with Mata and Eden Hazard twice combining well, before a cross ricocheted awkwardly off both Sunderland centre-backs to drop for Torres at the far post. Mignolet, however, snuffed out the chance. The Spaniard finally struck after 11 minutes, with the help of a lightning-fast Chelsea counter. Oriol Romeu won the ball deep before igniting a break, Victor Moses feeding Hazard on the left, who crossed towards the six-yard line, where Torres was waiting to finish it coolly.
The visitors were settled and playing well – though that did not stop their fans from singing for Roberto Di Matteo in the 16th minute. Benitez, meanwhile, was forced into an early change when Romeu came off badly in an aerial duel and made way for Oscar. Sunderland came back into it, however, with a succession of corners and some scrappy Chelsea clearances, the game quietening as the first half went on.
The Blues had their second goal just before half-time, when Larsson needlessly clipped Ramires on the edge of the penalty area for Mark Halsey to blew for the penalty. Torres after a deep discussion with Luiz, stepped up to put away his fourth goal from 12 yards.
It took only three minutes after half-time for another Chelsea goal. Phil Bardsley stood and allowed a cross to bounce off him into Torres’ path. The striker thought that he had his hat-trick when his shot hit the woodwork but only to came back off to Mata, who finished emphatically on the rebound. Moses nearly added a fourth when he sliced a low shot inches wide but the Blues were cruising until the 67th minute.
After unsettling the Blues defenders from a set-piece, Sunderland regrouped and found Johnson in space on the left flank. His angle was acute but the winger cut a brilliant left-footed finish across Petr Cech and into the net. Sunderland pushed for more, Johnson drawing a fine save from Cech with a goalbound free-kick. At the other end, John O’Shea kept hope alive by intercepting Torres’ cutback.
The good news was all but over for Sunderland but there was time for Craig Gardner to power a free-kick against the bar in stoppage time, after which the full-time whistle confirmed the third place and first league win for the Blues under Benitez.
Chelsea now off for the World Club Cup and they may travel to Japan without Oriol Romeu on account of injury. Benitez said: “He has gone to London and we are waiting to hear from the doctor. When the player leaves the pitch limping and we are flying to Japan straight away, it makes things difficult. As it stands, he won’t be flying with us.”
- Sunderland 1-3 Chelsea | Premier League match report (guardian.co.uk)
- Sunderland 1-3 Chelsea: Match report, pictures and video highlights (thesun.co.uk)
- Sunderland vs Chelsea Preview: In Search of a League Win (chelseatrueblue.com)
- VIDEO Chelsea 3-1 Sunderland: Highlights; Torres Strikes Another Brace For The Blues (sfluxe.com)
- Fernando Torres can’t stop scoring under Rafa Benitez (dailymail.co.uk)