Torres torments Blues in Anfield win

The Spain international has a liking for playing the Londoners at

Anfield, as his six goals in five matches against them at home

shows. Chelsea were heavily linked with a summer bid for Torres but

it never materialised and manager Carlo Ancelotti said he did not

need to buy the striker as he was satisfied with his own forwards.

However, Torres was more than happy to give a display of his

quality to the Blues boss, whose side had conceded only three goals

in 10 league games prior to kick-off. It was always likely the

result would come down to who took their chances and with Didier

Drogba left on the bench until the second half, Torres was given a

head start. He did not need a second invitation and in addition to

his two expertly-taken first-half goals he was a constant threat to

the Chelsea defence Torres has been short of form this season but

he has always been able to produce a performance against Chelsea at

Anfield over the years and this was no different. It took just 11

minutes for him to reopen old wounds with a classic piece of

finishing courtesy of a cross from Dirk Kuyt, making a welcome

return after a month’s absence with an ankle injury, on the left.

The Dutchman chipped a pass over the head of John Terry and Torres

took one touch before firing past Petr Cech. Having looked short of

confidence this season the 26-year-old appeared to spring to life,

immediately going on a short run and firing wide. Possession was

fairly even but Liverpool created the best chances, having a

penalty shout dismissed when Terry’s clearance bounced up on to

Yury Zhirkov’s arm from which Raul Meireles shot at Cech. Torres

did not give the goalkeeper any such chance with his second just

before half-time with a strike even better than his opener and

reminiscent of his first ever goal for the club – also against

Chelsea. Meireles dispossessed Ashley Cole in the centre of the

pitch and rolled the ball out to the Spaniard on the left of the

penalty area. Cutting inside he curled a shot around Branislav

Ivanovic and inside Terry and the far post. It was a fitting end to

undoubtedly Liverpool’s best first half of the season, which was as

much down to excellent organisation at the back as Torres’ potency

up front. With Jamie Carragher, restored to centre-back, barking

the orders the hosts limited Chelsea to one shot on target – and

that a weak Salomon Kalou header straight at Jose Reina. Drogba’s

arrival for the start of the second half was inevitable but the

Ivory Coast international’s first shooting opportunity saw him curl

a 30-yard free-kick well wide. Ramires headed over and Zhirkov’s

shot was turned around the post by Reina, who also produced a

brilliant close-range stop to deny Florent Malouda. Having got

themselves into a winning position it was now a question of holding

on to it for Liverpool as Chelsea ramped up the pressure. Torres

may be paid to score goals but the sight of him hoofing the ball

into the upper tier of the Centenary Stand was testament to the

determination of everyone to hang on at all costs. Kuyt almost

wrapped things up 15 minutes from time only for Cech’s outstretched

leg to divert the ball wide. Chelsea knew it was not to be their

day when Nicolas Anelka’s shot squeezed under Reina, whose slight

touch deflected the ball up on to the bar and then Carragher

cleared from the lurking Drogba two yards out. The win moved

Liverpool into ninth, the first time they have been in the top half

since the opening weekend of the season, after three successive

Barclays Premier League victories. They are still not in a position

to challenge Chelsea at the top of the table – where they still

have a two-point lead over Manchester United – but they proved, on

their day and with Torres on form, they remain a match for any

side. It seems a corner has now been turned in Roy Hodgson’s reign,

and with matches to come against Wigan, Stoke and West Ham there is

a real chance for them to restore some of the damage done by their

poor start to the season.