Champions League: Fernando Torres' hard work starting to pay off, says Ray Wilkins
Fernando Torres' attitude was spot on as he fired Chelsea to victory over Schalke, says Ray Wilkins.
Last Updated: 23/10/13 10:35pm
Striker Torres, 29, took his tally to four goals in six starts for Chelsea this season with strikes in the fifth and 69th minutes to put the Blues on track for a 3-0 away win over Schalke, Eden Hazard adding the third after 87 minutes. Read our match report here
The forward failed to score once in 11 starts after arriving at Stamford Bridge from Liverpool in January 2011, but found the net 10 times in 32 starts in 2011/12 before firing home 22 times in 51 starts in 2012/13.
Former Chelsea assistant boss Ray Wilkins told Sky Sports that the striker's improving potency is evidence of his renewed determination to deliver, particularly after Samuel Eto'o's arrival at the club in the summer.
"He is not back to the Fernando Torres of old, but he certainly is putting a shift of work in," said Wilkins. "He got a bit of luck for the first goal because it was appalling defending at the back post.
"But his second goal was magnificent work. Hazard led the counter-attack with a fantastic run, Oscar provides a brilliant pass and although Torres' first touch wasn't the best, it took him past the goalkeeper and it took him past the goalkeeper.
"I think all of us ex-pros were really hoping that he'd get back to his old form because none of us likes to see a man go through what he's been through. This is certainly a step in the right direction - he worked hard and took his goals well.
"Jose Mourinho seems to have this knack of understanding when to bring the right guys in at the right time and it was Torres' night.
"I think he felt that he might have a counter-attacking game on his hands and Torres might be able to open his legs and get beyond the Schalke defence a little more than Eto'o, who when I've seen him play this year, has lost a little bit of that spark in his pace and he comes to the ball a hell of a lot whereas Torres loves to go in behind people. Mourinho came up trumps once again.
"I wouldn't have thought the Champions League is his priority this season; he obviously would like to win it but I think the Premier League is something he'd like to wrestle back.
"It's always nice to win the league in which you play in. If the Champions League comes along I'm sure he'd take it. When they reached the final against Manchester United they beat Schalke along the way, so let's hope omens do creep into it."
Mourinho now fully expects Chelsea to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League after recovering from an opening round 2-1 defeat at home to Basel in what he described as a 'garbage' start to the club's campaign.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp agreed that the Blues appear much more settled as a unit and said that Torres must now prove that he can consistently raise his game.
"It seems a long time since that Basel performance when we questioned the system, how Chelsea were playing and wondered if Jose knew his best team.
"I thought the two centre-backs - John Terry and Gary Cahill - were magnificent; they gave everyone the platform to go and play.
"I don't think we can say 'Fernando Torres is back' when he's scored one goal in his last 25 Premier League games - that doesn't suggest that he's back to his best.
"But football isn't rocket science. If you work hard, run around and show desire you get rewarded, you get lucky. We've all been critical of Fernando Torres because he hasn't shown that sort of thing in the past. His body language has been poor but at the moment he's up for it. He's embraced the challenge of having Samuel Eto'o there.
"I think Torres is still Chelsea's best centre forward; Eto'o isn't the player that he was and now that Fernando Torres is playing the way that he is, it's great news for Mourinho and Chelsea fans. That's the level we want to see him playing at week in, week out - not just every now and again."
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