Fernando Torres could be handed three-game ban after Jan Vertonghen incident


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The Independent Football

Fernando Torres will face an additional three-match ban if the referee, Mike Dean, did not have a clear view of the Chelsea striker scratching Jan Vertonghen’s face during Saturday’s feisty 1-1 draw at Tottenham. Now that referees no longer submit details of bookings and sendings-off to the media after matches, it is unclear whether Torres received the first of his two yellow cards for his trip on Vertonghen or the incident that followed.

If Dean and his assistant Jake Collin did not have a clear view of the apparent scratching, retrospective action can be taken. If the referee saw it, however, and cautioned him for that, Torres will escape with a ban for only one match: Sunday’s game at Norwich. He received his second yellow card, unluckily, when Vertonghen made the most of an aerial challenge nine minutes from the end.

At that point Chelsea were preparing to bring on a second striker, Samuel Eto’o, alongside Torres because Jose Mourinho thought his side could complete their recovery from 1-0 down and win the game. “I felt sorry we went down to 10 because Spurs were in trouble,” Mourinho said. “Sometimes you feel the game is there to win.”

Having surprisingly preferred to start with Eto’o in the recent defeats against Everton and Basle, Mourinho has been impressed with the way Torres responded: “From television  I was watching Fernando’s matches for Chelsea in other seasons and  he looked to me a bit heavy, a little slow. I think Fernando now looks  in fantastic shape. And I think he played a very good game. He  knows I’m very happy with his performances.”

Torres’s enforced absence next weekend means he is more likely to start in the Champions League away to Steaua Bucharest on Tuesday, for which Juan Mata has also impressed the manager sufficiently to guarantee a place after coming on at half-time against Spurs and helping to transform the game.  

Mourinho – who, Football Association sources say, is not expected to face any action for his comments on Saturday’s events, when he said Dean was taken in by Vertonghen simulating an injury – believes Chelsea must win in Romania to revive their prospects after losing the first group match at home to Basle.

“Even a draw is probably not a good result for us,” he said. “We have to have 12 points, so if we lose we have four matches to play and have to win four. If you make a second mistake you are right on the edge.”

Champions League: Eye on the opposition

Steaua Bucharest went top of Romanian Liga 1 after running out comfortable 3-0 winners at home to Poli Timisoara ahead of Chelsea’s Group E visit on Tuesday.

Striker Federico Piovaccari opened the scoring on Saturday, Nicolae Stanciu added a second from the spot and winger Adrian Popa grabbed the third.