The Story of Fernando Torres' Chelsea Career in 10 Matches

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistNovember 29, 2013

The Story of Fernando Torres' Chelsea Career in 10 Matches

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    Since joining Chelsea from Liverpool for a British record £50 million in January 2011, Fernando Torres' career has hit incredible peaks and depressing lows.

    There have been goals scored in European finals, trophies lifted, goal droughts lasting months and injuries and suspensions that have frustrated not just him, but the thousands of Chelsea fans who watch the Spaniard every week.

    This season seems to be a different type of Torres, though. Under the guidance of Jose Mourinho, he is looking better than ever before in a Chelsea shirt.

    He isn't quite at the peak we witnessed during his days at Anfield, but there's been more than a hint he is ready to return to those heady days.

    It all makes for an exciting time, so sit back as Bleacher Report takes you through the 10 games that have shaped Torres' time at Chelsea.

1. Liverpool: Feb. 6, 2011

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    In hindsight, Carlo Ancelotti probably regrets giving Fernando Torres his Chelsea debut so soon after he had arrived against Liverpool.

    The Spaniard hadn't been at Stamford Bridge for a week when he was turning out against his former teammates, with the focus on him like never before.

    It was a game to forget for him and the Blues, though.

    Not only did Chelsea lose the match 1-0, but Torres seemed to be overawed by the occasion and offered very little by way of a threat. It all seemed too much, too soon and it took him a long time to recover.

2. West Ham United: Apr. 23, 2011

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    With each game that passed and Torres didn't find the back of the net for Chelsea, the pressure grew on the Spaniard to perform and get results.

    When he reached double figures without a goal, concerns were high, and many wondered how long his drought would continue.

    He finally opened his Chelsea account against West Ham United on Apr. 23—three months and 16 games after he arrived from Liverpool.

3. Manchester United: Sept. 18, 2011

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    Not long into Andre Villas-Boas' ill-fated spell as Chelsea boss, Fernando Torres began to have the look of a player coming back to form.

    Against Manchester United, it was very much evident, with the Spaniard scoring an excellent goal just after the interval to give the Blues a glimmer of hope at Old Trafford, having trailed 3-0 at halftime.

    From the highs of that sublime finish, however, his world came crumbling down once more when he missed an open goal after rounding goalkeeper David De Gea.

    The Stretford End took great delight in mocking Torres, but if he thought that was bad enough, he need only wait a week for tragedy to strike once again.

4. Swansea City: Sept. 24, 2011

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    Having hit the back of the net against Manchester United a week earlier, Torres scored in successive matches for the first time in his Chelsea career when he opened the scores against Swansea City in the Blues' next outing.

    Chelsea would go on to win the match 4-1, although Torres wasn't smiling for long after he was given a straight red for a lunge on Jacks midfielder Mark Gower.

    Just as he was beginning to lift off, Torres was frustratingly grounded and suspended, forced to wait another month for his next Premier League appearance.

    By that time, his form and confidence appeared at its lowest since he joined Chelsea.

5. Aston Villa: Mar. 31, 2011

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    If Torres thought his 16-game goal drought was his lowest ebb when he first joined Chelsea, he had another thing coming.

    After scoring against Swansea City in September 2011, he was forced to wait until the final day of March 2012 before he registered another strike in the Premier League.

    His goal in Chelsea's 4-2 victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park ended a run of six months and 18 league matches without finding the back of the net.

6. Barcelona: Apr. 24, 2012

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    Chelsea's journey to the Champions League semifinals in 2012 was a true backs-to-the-wall effort.

    Nobody had given them a chance when they trailed Napoli 3-1 after the first leg in the Last 16, but defeating the Italians 4-1 in the return at Stamford Bridge gave the Blues belief they could go on to achieve something special—which they did.

    Meeting Barcelona in the semis, many thought Chelsea's luck would run out on them, but if anything, it only improved.

    They won the first leg 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, yet that was only the beginning.

    Trailing 1-0 at the Nou Camp, John Terry was sent off for a needless kick on Alexis Sanchez and soon after, Barca doubled their lead through Andres Iniesta.

    With Barca in control, the Blues seemed down and out until Ramires put them back in control of the tie when he chipped Victor Valdes right on half time to make it 2-1 on the night, 3-2 to Chelsea on aggregate.

    After the interval, Lionel Messi and his teammates threw everything at Chelsea. Messi himself missed a penalty, striking the bar.

    When Fernando Torres replaced Didier Drogba on 80 minutes, little did he know the wheels were in motion for him to play the most significant part of this great spectacle.

    Torres had hardly had a kick when, in the 90th minute, Ashley Cole's clearance saw him race clear of the Barca defence on the halfway line.

    With nothing but open space in front of him, it seemed to take an age for Torres to bear down on goal, but when he did, he calmly rounded Valdes and tapped home to make it 2-2 and send Chelsea through to the Final.

    It was just Torres' eighth goal in all competitions in the entire season.

    Chelsea's Premier League match against QPR that followed their heroics in Barcelona saw Torres score his first—and only—Chelsea hat-trick to date, as the Blues won 6-1.

7. Bayern Munich: May 19, 2012

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    He may have scored the goal that made sure of Chelsea's place in the 2012 Champions League Final, but it wasn't enough to give Fernando Torres a place in the starting lineup against Bayern Munich.

    He would have been disappointed no doubt, but he still had a vital role to play, winning the corner that led to Didier Drogba's dramatic 88th-minute equalizer.

    From there, Chelsea rode their luck to take the game to extra time and penalties, before Drogba did the rest with the decisive spot kick to make the Chelsea the first-ever London club to lift the trophy.

    Torres maintained he left Liverpool to win trophies and in doing so, he won the biggest one of them all.

8. Manchester United: Oct. 28, 2012

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    Whenever Torres seems to be picking up a head of steam, fate seems to strike him down. As it did against Manchester United last season.

    Chelsea had trailed the eventual 2012-13 Premier League champions 2-0 after conceding sloppy goals early on when David Luiz deflected an effort into his own net and Robin van Persie doubled United's lead.

    The Blues clawed their way back into the game, though. Juan Mata fired home a delightful free-kick on the stroke of halftime before Ramires levelled on 53 minutes.

    He may not have been on the scoresheet, but Torres was a nuisance throughout. He was causing United all sorts of problems and was enjoying one of his best games in a blue shirt. Then he was sent off.

    Carrying a booking from an earlier foul, referee Mark Clattenburg deemed Torres to have dived when he was tackled by Jonny Evans and he was dismissed for a second bookable offence, joining Bransilav Ivanovic for an early shower, who himself was dismissed just five minutes earlier.

    Chelsea eventually lost the game 3-2, while Torres lost his momentum.

    It was from here that Chelsea's campaign would unravel, failing to qualify from their group in the Champions League, while their title challenge soon ended.

9. Benfica: May 15, 2013

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    For all the negatives that had befallen him, it was the Europa League where Fernando Torres came alive for Chelsea in 2012-13.

    The goals may have dried up in the Premier League, but in Europe, the Spaniard was a different beast altogether.

    En route to facing Benfica in the Final, Torres had hit five goals in the competition, but he wasn't done there.

    From firing Chelsea through the early rounds, the Blues' No. 9 took charge of proceedings in the Final, scoring one of the great European final goals.

    It had been a cagey affair up until the hour mark, with the Portuguese outfit enjoying the better chances in front of goal.

    But after a simple clearance from Petr Cech, Torres suddenly found himself one-on-one with Luisao, who he shrugged off with ease before rounding the goalkeeper to fire Chelsea into the lead.

    It was a fine solo goal and inspired the Blues to victory, eventually winning the game 2-1 to lift the Europa League trophy.

    Chelsea became the first club to loft the Champions League and Europa League in successive seasons. As for Torres, it meant he has now won every major honor—both in club football and international, after Spain's European Championship success in 2008.

10. Manchester City: Oct. 27, 2013

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    If Fernando Torres had been waiting for his Chelsea moment to arrive, this was surely it.

    For so long, he has been criticized for not scoring goals in the biggest matches, against the biggest teams. That seems to have all changed this season, however.

    He put Chelsea in front against Bayern Munich in the Super Cup back in August, scoring a sublime goal in Prague's Eden Stadium.

    But whereas some niggling injuries and suspensions since then would have held him back in seasons past, he has shown to be made of tougher stuff this term, bouncing back to be influential for the Blues.

    Nowhere was that more evident than against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge in late October, when Torres scored Chelsea's winner in the last minute of the game.

    Chasing a lost cause, he showed great composure and desire to capitalize on a defensive error, tapping one home in front of the Shed End to give Chelsea a vital three points, winning the game 2-1.

    Since then, he has featured just twice on account of the international break and a thigh injury. But was the City game the turning point in his Chelsea career? We'll find out soon enough.

    Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes