Luiz and Mata combine to make Blues' night

 

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The Independent Online

When he ran at goal deep in injury-time last night, you might reasonably have expected Fernando Torres to pull the trigger himself and try to end what has been a miserable run of games since April without a goal. That he cut it back for Juan Mata to score tells us a little more about the £50m man who cannot currently buy a goal for Chelsea.

That late goal would have meant infinitely more to Torres than to Mata, who scored on his debut for Chelsea, but the Spaniard's unselfish pass in to his compatriot changed the mood around the struggling striker. It was not the goal that Torres's advocates were hoping for – but it was not far off.

Before that point it had been yet another hesitant performance by Torres. When it came to breaking the deadlock on a fraught night at Stamford Bridge it was David Luiz, the centre-back who thinks he is a centre-forward, who came to Andre Villas-Boas's rescue with a second-half goal. The Brazilian defender now has three times the number of goals scored by Torres, the other player signed in January.

The night began with a break from time-honoured tradition in that Frank Lampard and John Terry were both left out. Daniel Sturridge and Juan Mata were in. This was new Chelsea.

Yet, with Torres failing to score, the manager was calling for Lampard and Nicolas Anelka from the bench just after the hour and within a minute of their introduction, Luiz had scored the goal that won the game. To give Torres his due, it was also his assist for Luiz's goal. The two assists – in particular the second – justified his inclusion but as a goalscorer he still looks a long way off the player Chelsea thought they were signing.

Chelsea had a goal ruled out for offside after just four minutes when Raul Meireles backheeled Torres's earlier backheel into the goal. Even before then Leverkusen had one disallowed themselves, and that decision looked harsh.

An early two-footed lunge on Simon Rolfes, for which Torres was booked, told you that the striker was wound up tight. But there was a nice balance to Chelsea's front three with Mata on the left and Sturridge on the right. On 28 minutes, Torres got the ball in the area in a promising position but, twisting and turning, could not get away from Rolfes in the Leverkusen penalty area.

After the interval the Germans came out stronger and they should have scored when Michael Ballack, returning to the club where the supporters retain a great fondness for him, ran on to Andre Schuerrle's knockdown and drew a fine save from Petr Cech.

Schuerrle had a second chance a minute later which he should have done better with. Had one of them gone in then the mood could have turned sour.

It needed a change. Lampard came on with Anelka, and it was intriguing to see the more dangerous-looking Sturridge go off rather than Torres.

Within a minute Torres cushioned an Ashley Cole cross into the stride of Luiz who did well to beat Bernd Leno with a low shot from the edge of the area. That seemed to release Chelsea: Anelka was excellent and both Mata and Lampard went close. Torres broke free in injury time and cut back for Mata's goal. Surely his night will come.

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