Torres 2.0 leads Chelsea to victory over Man City

Posted by Phil Lythell

Clive Rose/Getty ImagesFernando Torres was at his very best in Sunday's win over Manchester City.

Is there anything more enjoyable in football than a last-minute winner? Judging by the reaction around Stamford Bridge after Fernando Torres pounced on a defensive mix-up to give Chelsea a precious 2-1 win over Manchester City, the answer would have to be no.

The spoils were richly deserved for a committed and spirited performance from the Blues, and for Torres especially. The Spaniard looks a completely different player from the one that has previously turned out in a Chelsea shirt, with him now possessing a renewed drive and an inner belief that is beginning to terrorise defences once again.

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There was no shortage of talent on display in either side, and the fact that he was clearly the best player in the match shows just far he has come in a short space of time under Jose Mourinho's wing. The irony has not been lost that Rafael Benitez was brought in with the hope of bringing the best out of the former Liverpool striker, and yet it is his managerial nemesis that appears to have the touch of an alchemist. Torres' confidence is soaring at present, something that no previous Chelsea manager has been able to extract, and it now looks as if the corner might finally have been turned. The striker has been lampooned for finding the net only against supposed lesser opposition and for scoring only once this calendar year, though with a match winner against a title rival he will be able to silence the doubters for little while at least.

That Torres is a changed man was exemplified by his response to a dreadful miss early in the first half when he was given the freedom of the penalty area only to snatch at his shot and balloon the ball over the crossbar. The old Torres would have crept back into his shell and disappeared off the radar for weeks, but this time he shrugged off the disappointment to tie Gael Clichy in knots and lay the ball on a plate for Andre Schurrle to open the scoring. With his chest puffed out, he suddenly appeared invincible and was desperately unlucky to see his delicious curling shot rebound off the woodwork.

Torres and his teammates were helped by some dreadful defending from the visitors who were shorn of the totemic Vincent Kompany and looked listless for large portions of the game. Martin Demichelis stepped in for the Belgian and was buffeted around by the Chelsea forwards and provided little assistance for defensive partner Matija Nastasic. Though it was Clichy who the Blues targeted throughout the game, the vast majority of Chelsea's most dangerous attacks came down City's left flank with Torres, Ramires and Branislav Ivanovic toying with the Frenchman. The dominance on that part of the field during the first half was so complete that it was disappointing that the hosts had only one goal to show for their efforts at halftime.

Playing a side possessing genuine class, it was inevitable that there would be a response, though it was saddening to see them draw level through inept defending. Gary Cahill was left flat-footed as Sergio Aguero ran onto a through ball, though his mistake was compounded by Petr Cech's mystifying inability to save a shot that was fired straight at him. The tide briefly turned, but it was encouraging to see Chelsea wrestle their way back into a game that could easily have swung definitively in favour of the visitors.

It was also refreshing to witness a top of the table clash that was so wide open in the closing stages. Both teams were determined to go for the win when they could have been excused for settling for a draw, and it made for a thrilling finale that was reflective of the match in general. Both managers should be commended for their approach, even if Manuel Pellegrini is now possibly questioning his decisions.

Chelsea have now played three matches against possible contenders for the Premier League crown and are undefeated with five points taken from them. They have even recaptured the ability to win a game late on, as seen against Norwich as well as City. The Mourinho plan appears to be working once again, and while there have been some casualties of war -- most notably Juan Mata, who did not even make it on as a substitute Sunday -- the team are certainly heading in the right direction.

Follow Phil Lythell on Twitter @PhilLythell


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