Reunited with Rafa Benitez: Did Fernando Torres respond to his mentor?

If there was one man at Stamford Bridge who should have been thrilled to see Rafael Benitez arrive, it was Fernando Torres. He did not score yesterday but there was enough improvement to suggest he might well benefit from the management of his old mentor

Work rate

Rafael Benitez insisted on Friday that he still sees "a player with commitment" in Torres. That was not always obvious under Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas or Roberto Di Matteo. Yesterday he looked more concerned. Torres had that fierce edge back which suggests he cared about the result. He put Zabaleta, one of the Premier League's toughest defenders, on the ground early on. As the game went on, thwarted runs ended with Torres tripping first James Milner and then Kolarov. After the second foul, he was frustrated enough to hammer the ball into the hoardings. Of course fair play is preferable to foul, but this was an improvement of sorts.

Hold-up play

Torres is never going to be Didier Drogba but there is clearly still an expectation at Chelsea for a striker who can win the ball in the air. He had long passes thrown up towards him, not to run on to but to turn and control. This is not Torres's natural game and never has been. He did not, in truth, win very many of them. But not many strikers dominate Kompany in the air. Even Drogba could not always. But Torres continued to leap and challenge, having marginally more success up against Kolarov or Matija Nastasic. A more selfish striker might have spent less time helping his team but the commitment itself is to be applauded.

Movement

The Torres we knew at Liverpool was a ferocious attacker of space, never happier than when charging beyond defences. There were signs yesterday of the old instincts returning. Late in the first half he skipped past Pablo Zabaleta, awakening the crowd. Twice in succession after the break he darted inside Aleksandar Kolarov, testing out City's slowest defender. With three minutes to go it took a desperate saving tackle by Vincent Kompany to stop him. With a touch more pace Torres might have broken through.

Finishing

Torres's lack of goals at Chelsea has been explained by Benitez as being due to the team rather than the man himself. With more chances, the manager said, Torres would score more goals. He only had one real opportunity yesterday, coming early in the second half. Eden Hazard flicked the ball to him on the edge of the box, Yaya Touré slipped and Torres drilled the ball with his left foot over the bar. It would have been an excellent goal. With sharper movement Torres might well have got more chances, but he did not.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Déjà vu: David Tennant returns to familiar territory with Anna Gunn (‘Breaking Bad’)
tvReview: Something is missing in Gracepoint, and it's not just the familiar names
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?