Torres, not shaking, is the problem

 

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The Independent Online

It was not the debate Chelsea wanted in the run-up to the defence of their Champions League title but, once all the fuss about who shook whose hand on Saturday afternoon had died down the form of Fernando Torres became a talking point again. Ten minutes from the end of a disappointing derby he sloped off down the tunnel, having completed a 50th Premier League appearance for the club with nine goals to his name; in the equivalent period at Liverpool his haul was 33.

Apart from one early run into the penalty area, when he was denied by the home team's excellent new goalkeeper Julio Cesar, there was little about the Spaniard's performance to suggest renewed confidence, as his hangdog expression on leaving the pitch confirmed.

Ahead of an opening game at home to Juventus on Wednesday, the manager Roberto Di Matteo was clearly not going to admit to any doubts about his man or the lack of alternatives to him – Daniel Sturridge, the late substitute being the only one now that Didier Drogba has headed to the China seas. "He played his part in the game," Di Matteo said. "We're looking for other players to score goals as well."

Unfortunately, Eden Hazard, asked to do that as well as being the Premier League's leading provider of assists, found Cesar keen to make an impression on his debut, and then wasted the clear opening set up for him by Chelsea's brightest spark, the substitute Victor Moses.

After the match Ryan Nelsen, the experienced QPR centre-back, could have reprised that footballer's trick of looking in his pocket and telling Torres to come out now, but the New Zealander seems too nice a man; nice enough to have exchanged shirts with Ashley Cole, whom Anton Ferdinand appears to have declared a pariah for supporting John Terry in the dispute that began in the corresponding fixture 11 long months ago. "Fernando has had a few over me in his career," Nelsen admitted modestly.

Juventus will travel to London for Wednesday's Champions League trip to Chelsea with another three points under their belts after a late turnaround gave them a 3-1 Serie A victory at Genoa.

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