Rafael Benitez backs Fernando Torres to score more: 'Hopefully it will be the first of a lot'
Chelsea striker scored decisive goal against Steaua Bucharest
Friday 15 March 2013
Fernando Torres scored the decisive goal as Chelsea advanced to the Europa League quarter-finals, prompting interim boss Rafael Benitez to say: “Hopefully it will be the first of a lot.”
Torres scored his second goal in 20 games as last season's Champions League winners advanced to the Europa League last eight with a 3-1 win on the night and 3-2 last-16 aggregate success over Steaua Bucharest.
Torres' most recent goal - the effort at Middlesbrough which ricocheted in off his back was belatedly credited to Ramires - came against Brentford, but Benitez felt another was near.
"It (the goal) was important for him," Benitez said.
"It was important - the main thing - for the team. We knew he was working really hard, he was training really well.
"Two days ago he was scoring a lot of goals in training. We knew he was close.
"Hopefully it will be the first of a lot."
The Spaniard had the opportunity for a second goal and Chelsea's fourth after earlier goals from Juan Mata and recalled captain John Terry, but his 87th-minute penalty struck the crossbar.
Rather than bemoan the miss, Benitez was pleased his compatriot, and former prodigy at Liverpool, was prepared to assume penalty duties.
"He has confidence now and he can take the responsibility," said Benitez, who revealed Torres was one of three possible penalty takers.
"We are quite pleased because he was taking the responsibility.
"It's good. He scored and after he had more confidence and that is positive for the team and positive for him for the future."
Chelsea had to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit to progress and levelled the tie through Mata after 33 minutes, only for Vlad Chiriches to score on the stroke of half-time when the Blues failed to clear a corner.
The away goal meant Chelsea needed to score twice to be included in today's last-eight draw and Terry headed in after 58 minutes and Torres netted after 71 minutes to seal victory - before his late spot-kick miss.
Chelsea's attention turns to Sunday's clash with West Ham, where they will seek to consolidate their place in the Barclays Premier League top four.
Following the international break, Chelsea will then play six games in 16 days, including an FA Cup quarter-final replay with Manchester United.
The run begins against Southampton on Easter Saturday and Benitez will take a game-by-game approach to the fixture congestion.
"I prefer to have this problem because it means we're carrying on and competing," he said.
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