What Went so Right for Fernando Torres Against Rubin Kazan?

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterApril 4, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 04:  Goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov of Rubin Kazan smotghers the ball as Fernando Torres of Chelsea closes in during the UEFA Europa League quarter final first leg match between Chelsea and FC Rubin Kazan at Stamford Bridge on April 4, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Fernando Torres looked a different animal during Chelsea's 3-1 win over Rubin Kazan on Thursday night.

The Spaniard scored two goals on either side of Victor Moses' superb half-volley to see the Blues take a rather commanding lead back to Russia, but what went so suddenly right for him?

The team selection was a huge complement to his skill set.

Much has been made of the statistics regarding Torres' goals for Liverpool. When he was at Liverpool, 69 percent (56) of his goals came from defence-splitting through-balls (via LFCHistory.net). He was running onto and finishing most chances from deep.

B/R's Karl Matchett added to this sentiment in an excellent piece in 2012:

Whoever had the ball, Torres knew where the pass would be played and when to make his move. Always, his body was ready on the half turn so that he could use his acceleration to outpace the defender.

Any crosses which were aimed around the penalty spot or the front of the six-yard box had a good chance of being diverted inside the near post by the floppy blonde locks of Torres.

A big part of this was the through-balls from Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard. But many of Chelsea's recruits don't provide that threat.

Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata produce some wonderful interlinking play, but slow buildup is preferred to springing the offside trap on a regular basis.

Fortunately, David Luiz enjoyed the freedom to play long, accurate through-balls when given time and space by the Rubin front line, and he took that opportunity to give Torres the chances he's been craving.

The Spaniard was still guilty of slowing down attacks at times, but mental fragility isn't repaired in one 90-minute spell.

Torres showed remarkable athleticism and close control to bring Luiz's passes out of the air and into serviceable positions. Overall, he was a much firmer threat in and around the box.

It wasn't just Luiz's directness that helped him, though. The vertical pace injected into the side helped them move up the field at the speed Torres prefers. Victor Moses was instrumental in hurrying things up.

Once Torres' first went in, the confidence began to flow. Suddenly, he was leaping like a salmon for every ball, chasing down lost causes and pre-empting mistakes.

The sulky, forlorn Torres of the past 12 months was absent.

At one point he was bound to find form, and scrutinous eyes will fall upon him to see if he can maintain any semblance of a streak.

But well done to the Spaniard for a fantastic performance on the night, and if he sinks hard in the next match, we can probably just put it down to his Batman mask.