Fernando Torres: Can Striker Lead Chelsea to 2 Trophies and a Top-4 Spot?

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 14:  Fernando Torres of Chelsea celebrates scoring their third goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 second leg match between Chelsea and FC Steaua Bucuresti at Stamford Bridge on March 14, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Fernando Torres had a key effect on Chelsea's UEFA Europa League victory over Steaua Bucharest on Thursday, scoring the winning goal as the Blues progressed to 3-2 on aggregate.

Having looked lethargic, disinterested and not in the slightest bit threatening for the majority of the match, the striker ended up looking something like his dangerous old self as the match wore on, and he was heavily involved in the latter stages of the game.

With Demba Ba having started Premier League matches recently for Chelsea, Torres was afforded the chance to start against Steaua with Ba ineligible for Europa League ties.

The Spaniard took his chance well enough with the second half of his performance. So can his goal and match-winning confidence spurn him on to greater things over the rest of this season?

Chelsea are fighting on two fronts in cup competitions, FA Cup and Europa League, as well as still chasing for a top-four spot to seal qualification for next season's Champions League.

Though Ba has given them an extra dimension in attack, a fit and focused Torres would be a massive bonus for Chelsea.

Torres' goal was very well taken, but it also seemed as though taking a boot in the head got the striker fired up in a big way. His determination, agility and pace all stepped up a notch thereafter, and he looked once more the hungry, aggressive attacker of old.

It is this version of Torres that Chelsea want, which they also need, and it could help propel them to trophy- and league-placing success.

Half an hour of aggression and desire isn't enough; Torres needs to show this on a regular basis to get himself anywhere near the player he used to be.

The application and self-belief Torres showed was visible when he volunteered to take a penalty for Chelsea late in the game—only for him to sum up his Chelsea career so far when he smacked it against the crossbar.

At this stage, the best thing for Chelsea and Fernando himself would be for Rafa Benitez to start him in their very next game, which is in the Premier League against West Ham United on Sunday. If Torres continues in that game the way he finished this one, playing hard and perhaps scoring another goal, he could yet be pivotal in their push for success this season.

If he sees himself back on the bench, or if he continues his sulky demeanour on the pitch, then he's likely in his final season at Stamford Bridge.