Torres 11, 44
Anything you can do I can do better or at least match. Last Thursday it was Steven Gerrard taking the plaudits after a match winning performance against Napoli. This time Fernando Torres, perhaps inspired by his captain’s example, finally awoke from the footballing slumber that we’ve all been enduring for well, quite frankly too long.
His first half brace, both cynically taken, proved to be vital not only because Chelsea hit back in the second half but also for him and team. For both talk of turning a corner is still premature but four on the bounce now for the team and four in five for Torres certainly has something of that nature about it?
HRH suffered a late blow with Glen Johnson (injured) and Kyrgiakos (ill) bowing out. The loss of the Greek was a particular blow as his physicality would have been vital against Drogba however as it turned out the Ivorian was on the bench (also ill). Martin Kelly and Martin Skrtel took their places. Dirk Kuyt, recovered from injury, also started and would hopefully provide the support to Torres that we haven’t really seen so far this season? In addition to Drogba Chelsea were without Essien and of course Lampard leading many to suggest in the pre match discussions that we had a real chance as if this wasn’t the case anyway!
For us it was the perfect start. After only 10 minutes Martin Skrtel arrowed a lovely through ball to Dirk Kuyt. The Dutchman produced a fine pitching wedge of pass over the top of the Chelsea defence to Torres running in on the left who took one touch, held off Terry and stuck it past Cech. What made this goal stand out was not the pass from Kuyt nor was it the finish but the subtle touch Torres took to set up the shot. The room for error was practically non existent one way and Terry would have prodded it away the other and the angle for the shot would have been too wide. Torres judged it perfectly.
The goal gave us a confidence to take forward into the rest of the came and the opposition something to think about. Chelsea seemed to ponder for ages. I was surprised by their reticence it was almost as if they were unsure what to do without Drogba, Essien and Lampard? Part of this was down to them but we should also take credit. We played the ball around nicely and when we lost it were tenacious in our attempts to retrieve it, snapping at the Chelsea, giving them no time to settle and making sure that when they did have possession we had plenty of men on top and behind them. The reward for all this came right at the end of the half.
Torres picked up a Meireles ball on the left side just outside the area. As a defender the last thing you should do in this situation is to allow the striker to cut inside however, Ivanovic did just that allowing Torres a go on goal. Torres wrapped his boot around the ball to produce a curling shot that finished just inside Cech’s left hand post leaving him helplessly rooted to the spot you could almost hear him say “Ok, fair enough” as it flew past him.
Two up and game over? Never so with Chelsea and in the second half they introduced Drogba. I’m not sure if it was down to this but we seemed to turn in on ourselves granting Chelsea far too much space and possession and worse still allowing them to come onto us, it was around 70 minutes before we got our first corner of the half. This began to pay dividends, Ramires headed over and then Zhirkov on the hour produced a near post shot that Reina parried away. Malouda, from Drogba’s cross, had what seemed a sure fire opportunity to pull one back miraculously thwarted by Reina who simply got in the way and managed to fumble the ball away to safety a point blank distance. It was a marvellous save, pure instinct. We were being pinned back into our own half, our only chance was tame effort from Maxi after Gerrard’s corner. However, full marks to the defence and players such as Lucas who remained resolute and focussed throughout this period.
We had our chances Cech’s leg preventing a third from Kuyt shot and turn however although it was Chelsea’s half it was eventually our day. Anelka’s shot off the bar after 83 minutes and Carragher’s last ditch clearance, with Drogba about to pounce, summed up Chelsea’s afternoon and our spirit.
For once we were not going to let this one go and waste the precious opportunity Torres had given us. His goals belied the lack of confidence or form that has been often talked about in the press and underlined that, although there are bad times, players with Torres’ class don’t stay on the ropes for too long before hitting back. His goals were best possible reply and said more than any words, negative, speculative or otherwise, could ever say.
Liverpool: Reina, Konchesky, Carragher, Kelly, Skrtel, Raul Meireles, Gerrard, Maxi, Lucas, Torres, Kuyt Substitutes: Hansen, Wilson, Spearing, C Poulsen, Shelvey, Jovanovic, Ngog
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic (Bosingwa 70), A Cole, Terry, Alex, Ramires, Mikel, Malouda, Zhirkov (Sturridge 76), Kalou (Drogba 46), Anelka Substitutes: Turnbull, Bosingwa, Ferreira, McEachran, Drogba, Sturridge, Kakuta