Torres breaks goalscoring duck in Chelsea victory

Fernando Torres scored his long-awaited first goal for Chelsea

to help the reigning English champion beat West Ham United 3-0 on

Saturday and keep up the pressure on Premier League leader

Manchetser United.

Torres, eight minutes after coming on as a substitute, burst

into the West Ham area, turned and drilled a low left-foot shot

into the corner of Robert Green’s net after 84 minutes at a

rain-soaked Stamford Bridge.

The Spanish striker had come under intense scrutiny after

failing to find the net in almost 15 hours of football despite

Chelsea’s paying a British transfer record 50 million pounds to

sign him from Liverpool in January.

England midfielder Frank Lampard gave Chelsea the lead in the

44th minute and Florent Malouda wrapped up the victory in injury

time.

The home side, though, rode its luck against bottom club West

Ham, who missed glorious chances through Freddie Sears, Carlton

Cole and substitute Robbie Keane.

The victory lifted Chelsea to within six points of Manchester

United, who beat Everton 1-0 earlier Saturday, with four games

remaining in the title race. West Ham is two points adrift of

safety.

Torres had not found the net for 901 minutes for club and

country, 732 for the west London side since signing almost three

months ago.

The 27-year-old said: ”I have had 14 games waiting for a goal,

which was not the beginning I was expecting when I signed. It is

not easy when you sign for a club in January but I want to thank

all my team-mates because they have been looking out for me.

”There will be less pressure on me now.”

Chelsea dominated early on but West Ham created two clear-cut

openings of their own in the first half. American Jonathan Spector

forced a sharp save from Petr Cech with a close-range header and

then Sears was denied by a combination of Cech and Ashley Cole as

Sears met a corner kick with a volleyed back heel.

With a minute of the half left, though, Chelsea produced their

best move of the match to take the lead. Didier Drogba played in a

marauding Cole down the left flank, and the defender’s low cross

was smashed home by Lampard.

The visitors came back strongly in the second half and could

easily have been level before Torres took over.

First Carlton Cole hesitated with the goal at his mercy, then

Keane blazed narrowly wide from 12 meters after ghosting between

Chelsea’s defenders.

They were made to pay for their profligacy after Torres had

replaced the impressive Drogba.

Nicolas Anelka’s through-ball played in Torres, and at first the

chance appeared to have gone as the ball was held up by a puddle.

But it proved a blessing in disguise for Torres, who reacted

sharply to swivel and fire home left-footed.

Stamford Bridge erupted and every outfield Chelsea player piled

on top of a jubilant Torres next to the corner flag.

The striker even played a part in Chelsea’s third goal, which

Malouda lashed into the roof of the net from 20 meters, a strike

that could prove vital if goal difference comes into play in the

title race.

Chelsea’s manager, Carlo Ancelotti, was delighted for

Torres.

”What a perfect day,” the Italian said. ”Everyone has been

waiting for Fernando to score and finally he did it. From today, a

new life. He needed a goal. He worked hard and maintained

confidence and composure. From today, he will have fantastic future

at this club.”