Europa League - Benitez stands by misfiring Torres

Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez defended the misfiring Fernando Torres after his side reached the last 16 of the Europa League.

PA Sport
Europa League - Benitez stands by misfiring Torres
.

View photo

Rafa Benitez (PA Photos)

Substitute Eden Hazard saved the Blues from extra time with a stunning last-gasp strike to snatch a 1-1 draw that was enough to eventually see off Sparta Prague's persistence over the two legs.

It could have been far easier for Chelsea, however, but for Torres.

The Spaniard is a world and European champion but displayed little of that pedigree as he wasted at least four clear-cut chances on a night Chelsea dominated possession without displaying a convincing cutting edge.

Most glaringly Torres was off-target twice in the opening 15 minutes, when a more confident striker may have helped ensure the ensuing night of nerves were averted.

Torres has now scored just once in his past 14 games - against League One Brentford - but despite his barren run Benitez claimed he saw enough to convince him the striker was not far from rediscovering his long lost touch in front of goal.

"He didn't play badly," Benitez said. "You can analyse a striker for the number of goals he scores. Maybe you're right. But he did a great job for the team.

"It's not easy against a team playing deep, but he was winning the ball in the air, bringing options for those around him.

"I thought he was playing well. I disagree he was playing badly. But of course we want him to take the chances that come his way.

"If he continues working like today and playing like he did, he will score goals. I'm convinced about that."

View Comments (21)
Fantasy Premier League