Galatasaray 1 Chelsea 1: Fernando Torres experiences another night of heaven and hell

Striker opened the scoring early on but there could and should have been so much more to celebrate

Turk Telecom Arena

In many shops that sell Galatasaray merchandise across the sprawling city of Istanbul, people are able to buy various tops with the proud slogan “welcome to hell” emblazoned across  the front.

For Galatasaray supporters such a phrase has become a badge of honour, but for the past three years it has been the best way to describe many of Fernando Torres’ experiences in a Chelsea shirt.

Everyone in the country is familiar with the sad tale of the striker who was so lethal at Liverpool and has been mostly timid since a British record £50m move to Stamford Bridge in 2011.

Any rare flash of form has prompted optimistic talk of a revival, only for injury or loss of confidence to soon silence it. One person who has refused to remain quiet about this Spanish enigma has been his manager, Jose Mourinho.

 

All the build-up to this last 16 tie was solely focused on the prospect of Didier Drogba facing his former club, until Mourinho’s private complaints over “having no strikers” were leaked by a French television station.

Given the club’s obvious pursuit of a high calibre forward for the summer, with Diego Costa, Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani all admired, it would have been understandable if the outburst was poorly received by Torres, even if he was picked ahead of Samuel Eto’o.

It was certainly not the ideal way to instil a forward with self-belief before a game where he was coming up against Drogba, a former team-mate who appeared to cast a long shadow over him until departing Chelsea two years ago after winning them the Champions League.

Galatasaray 1 Chelsea 1 match report: Torres goal halts English collapse

Any forward would find it hard to measure up to Drogba’s 157 goals in eight seasons, and strikes in nine out of nine cup finals. In contrast, before a ball was kicked here, Torres was still on a measly 43.

Speculation continues whether he will even see out the remaining couple of seasons on his contract, but more displays of this character may just convince Mourinho he is worth keeping. It seemed appropriate that he would end the Premier League’s drought in European football this calendar year in the same minute as the number on the back of his shirt – nine.

One area where he has often surprisingly struggled has been to be in the right place at the right time and show composure in front of goal. Yet the manner in which he found space in the area to exploit Chelsea’s fast counter attack and convert Cesar Azpilicueta’s measured ball was impressive.

There is something about competing on the continent that makes Torres look more like the player of old. Indeed, this was his 13th strike in the last 17 games in Champions League, Europa League and Uefa Super Cup. That’s a record even Drogba at his best would be proud of.

It wasn’t just his goal that would have made the demanding Mourinho happy. Torres covered a lot of ground at both ends of the pitch, winning headers in his own area at set pieces as well as in the final third as Chelsea had the better of the opening 45 minutes.

But in keeping with the pattern of his Chelsea career, where a low so often follows a high, he missed a golden opportunity seven minutes after the break which would have surely put the tie out of reach before Galatasaray’s stirring fightback.

Eden Hazard sent him in on goal with a sublime through ball, but he hesitated too long and ended up hitting a tame shot which Fernando Muslera tipped wide.

He was clearly exhausted by now, and Mourinho replaced him with Eto’o for the final quarter. This was one of his better evenings but there could and should have been so much more to celebrate. Déjà vu strikes again.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map