Di Matteo's faith puts Torres back on track


No goals for 150 days, then two in 17 minutes. Even London bus passengers do not experience periods of drought and plenty to the extremes Fernando Torres has since joining Chelsea 14 months ago.

Torres had been scoreless for 25 hours and 41 minutes' play, plus more than an hour's worth of injury time, when he ran on to Raul Meireles' pass yesterday and scuffed a 10-yard shot past the off-balance Kasper Schmeichel. Team-mates ran the length of the pitch to congratulate him, and the Spaniard looked a man who had been relieved of a great burden. The sense of freedom Torres experienced was underlined when, with Leicester City threatening an improbable comeback, he was first to a Meireles near-post corner and neatly glanced the ball inside the far post to double his tally. That confirmed Chelsea's fourth win in four matches under their interim manager, as Roberto Di Matteo is billed.

Di Matteo is Torres' third manager at Chelsea, and like the others Di Matteo has preferred Didier Drogba for the big matches, but in the conversations he said he had with Torres he has obviously said the right things.

"The whole team and club were happy for him as he works so hard for the team," Di Matteo said. "Hopefully his confidence is high now, but I didn't mind when he wasn't scoring; as long as we win as a team is all that matters to me."

Comforting words, but Torres admitted: "I was playing at a very good level but not scoring goals. The job of a striker is scoring goals. I have been working so hard to get those goals." The issue, he added, was "not mental".

To give Torres his due, he has recently been working ferociously and looking sharp in general play; the problem has been goals and there has been a sense that he has been not getting into scoring positions with the enthusiasm he once would have shown. In the circumstances a hat-trick, even against a defence as porous as Leicester's, would have been a choice riposte to his critics, and Torres might have had one were he greedier. He showed great unselfishness in squaring the ball to Meireles in the last minute, enabling the Portuguese to score.