Come tomorrow morning, one story is going to dominate the back of the newspapers, and that is the Spaniard’s miss in front of the Stretford End. The miss 10 minutes from time will no doubt overshadow his terrific performance, but Torres’ display is a timely reminder of the ability he possesses.
The trials and tribulations of Fernando Torres have been well documented since his record transfer from Liverpool to West London, but his performance at Old Trafford was undoubtedly his greatest in a Chelsea shirt.
Prior to last weekend’s victory at Sunderland the Spaniard had criticised the club’s midfield in an interview in his home country.
The ex-Liverpool striker said, "Chelsea is, between the English teams, maybe the least English. That's because of the kind of player Chelsea has—an older player, who plays very slow, who has a lot of possession, and that's what the club is trying to change now. It's normal that it takes some time; it's not easy to find midfielders because the best are already in the best teams and that's why I said that the arrival of [Juan ] Mata is going to give another pace to the team.”
Misquoted or not, on evidence at Old Trafford that was far from the truth as the striker linked with the midfield on numerous occasions. Torres linked up well with Ramires and Raul Meireles and it was the Brazilian who played him through as he beat the offside trip for THAT miss.
His performance was like the Torres of old with lots of positive energy and movement topped off with a goal. In fact, Torres could have left the field with the match ball, but he snatched at his two late chances following his second goal in a Chelsea shirt.
The goal will no doubt take a backseat considering his horrendous miss but he certainly took it like a player at the top of his game. Nicolas Anelka deserves a mention for his defence splitting ball, but it was all down to Torres’ movement that created the chance. The finish was fitting of a £50 million player as he neatly chipped the ball over David De Gea to silence the Old Trafford faithful.
More was to come from the striker as he squeezed past two United players before forcing the goalkeeper into a smart save but he then snatched at the rebound as it flew over the bar. Further woe was to fall his way in the closing stages of the match as he beat the offside trap and neatly sidestepped De Gea before firing his effort wide with the goal at his mercy.
The miss certainly beggared belief and it will no doubt scar a fantastic performance.
After the game Chelsea boss Andre Villa Boas was quick to defend his striker:
"You have to be fair. We have seen two of the world's best strikers miss crazy opportunities, Fernando with his miss and Wayne Rooney with his penalty. This is nothing dramatic but sometimes it becomes something."
Whilst there is certainly no defending the miss, the way in which he broke the offside trap and sidestepped De Gea showed that the confidence is there.
Torres’ start at Chelsea has been well documented, but one thing people tend to forget is that goals are never guaranteed. And the fact is, when you are running low on confidence goals are so hard to come across as you start doubting yourself. The player has looked a shadow of his former self but he may finally be adjusting to his new side.
Despite the miss Torres showed through his performance that the goals will certainly come. Many people have written the striker off since his arrival in January, but today he showed signs that he can reclaim the form that saw him light up the Premier League on his arrival back in 2007.
Form is temporary, class is permanent.