Football - Soccer-Confident Torres back to his best under Benitez

By Martyn Herman

Eurosport

LONDON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Some Chelsea fans are still upset at the choice of Rafael Benitez as interim manager but if owner Roman Abramovich's surprise appointment was designed to bring Fernando Torres back to form, the plan appears to be working.

Torres scored twice in the 3-1 Premier League victory at Sunderland on Saturday and began to resemble the world class striker the Londoners signed from Liverpool for 50 million pounds ($80.10 million) in January 2011.

The Spaniard also grabbed two goals in the 6-1 Champions League mauling of Danish whipping boys Nordsjaelland on Wednesday.

"I said before that if the team play well and create chances he will score goals," Benitez told the club website (www.chelseafc.com) after the interim manager claimed his first Premier League win since replacing the sacked Roberto Di Matteo last month.

"It's fair to say we are watching a Torres with more confidence and belief," said Benitez of the player who sparkled when the two men were together at Liverpool.

After going two months without scoring in the Premier League, a spell when a heavy-legged Torres often looked peripheral to what was going on around him, the Spain striker had a spring back in his step on Saturday.

Playing further up field and enjoying some first-class service, he was devastating at times, scoring a majestic opening goal after 11 minutes and then tucking away a penalty just before halftime - strangely his first spot kick in English football.

Torres was involved again just after the interval when his ferocious shot smacked against the crossbar and rebounded for Spain team mate Juan Mata to make it 3-0.

"It's a question of confidence and differences in movements," added Benitez.

"The most important thing is he appears confident. I was analysing his movements and adjusting a few things."

LIVERPOOL DARLING

Benitez signed Torres from Atletico Madrid in 2007 and his faith was fully justified as the player became the darling of the Liverpool fans, scoring 65 goals in 102 appearances.

His subsequent move to Stamford Bridge has proved far less successful.

Torres used to be second choice behind Didier Drogba. The Spaniard has been almost ever-present since the Ivorian left Chelsea after they won the Champions League in May but all too often this season he has looked like a striker in need of a reboot.

Whatever they think of the appointment of Benitez, Chelsea supporters will probably forgive him if Torres can at long last start repaying his British record transfer fee and rekindle a season that started so well for the club under Di Matteo.

From leading the Premier League at the end of October, third-placed Chelsea have slipped well behind Manchester United and Manchester City in the title race and this week became the first holders to bale out of the Champions League in the group stage.

Two wins and nine goals in four days, however, has taken the heat off Benitez after a difficult start to his Stamford Bridge career and the squad will fly out to Japan for Thursday's Club World Cup semi-finals in good heart.

"I was pleased the other day with the 6-1 win over Nordsjaelland and the way that we played until the end. Today we showed the team has a clear idea what they want to do and I felt they did really well," Benitez said.

"It's important to have an opportunity to win any trophy but especially this one," he added, referring to the Club World Cup.

"It was a great experience for me and I hope it will be for my players. I got to the final (with Liverpool) in 2005 and won the tournament (with Inter Milan) in 2010."

($1 = 0.6242 British pounds) (Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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