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Fernando Torres Profligacy Costs Liverpool Dearly

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 21: Fernando Torres (2nd R) and Yossi Benayoun of Liverpool look dejected after the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on March 21, 2010 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images
LA blaugranaCorrespondent IMarch 22, 2010

Given Fernando Torres's demolition of United's back line at Old Trafford one year ago, he was always going to be the subject of much attention in his return there on Sunday.

The Spaniard's play has not lived up to the stratospheric expectations created by a brilliant debut season, despite a respectable tally of 17 goals so far this term.

Liverpool as a whole have been a shadow of the team that gave rivals Manchester United such a run for the Premiership Title last season. Poor form, injuries and the sale of Xabi Alonso are often cited as explanations for Liverpool's poor season, but excuses are cheap and time was running short to turn things around and solidify their place in the top four.

A repeat of last year's win at Old Trafford would go a long way to recover morale for a late season push. There was a bit more optimism among Liverpool fans of late, especially after Torres' contribution to a midweek win in the UEFA league.

There would be no shortage of motivation from United, and Namanja Vidic in particular, who's chance for revenge added spice to an already mouthwatering match.

Torres started the game well. His movement and direct running caused headaches for the United defense. He was rewarded for his efforts with the opening goal off a chipped cross from Kuyt.

The headed goal is new addition to the Spaniard's arsenal since his arrival in England. His versatility is part of his threat, but he was not the most complete forward on the pitch. That title belongs to Wayne Rooney.

Rooney was omnipresent along the united front line as he skipped past challenges with ease, linked play for teammates and led drives at the heart of the Liverpool defense. Led by Rooney, United responded to the early goal by wrestling control of the match away from Liverpool. They would never let it go.

While Rooney seemed to be everywhere, Torres was increasingly isolated as the game went on. He and Gerrard were visibly frustrated by the lack of supply coming their way, and Vidic and Ferdinand revelled in every dispossession of the Liverpool stars.

A year ago it was the Serbian defender who's desperation got the better of him. This time round it was Torres who fluffed his lines.

Twice he was presented goals on a platter by pullbacks from the Gerrard. Twice he was alone in front an exposed Van der Saar. Twice he miss-hit the ball into the air above him.

The second was preceded by a dummy by Alquilani that fooled the United defense so completely that Torres probably had time for three touches. Liverpool did not craft another chance to equalize, and could only rue the spurred chances.

Sir Alex Ferguson had been roundly criticized for his decision, taken years ago, to write off signing Torres because of his wastefulness in front of goal. On Sunday, for once, The United boss looked justified in his decision.

United was the only world-class striker on the pitch. For all his speed, strength and ability, Torres was not in the Englishman's league.

He, and Liverpool, need to improve if they wish to challenge United for the Premiership in the future.

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