Torres winner puts Chelsea second
Published 27/10/2013 | 18:26
Fernando Torres netted a 90th-minute winner as Chelsea claimed a dramatic 2-1 Barclays Premier League win in a pulsating contest with fellow title-contenders Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.
One of the most eagerly awaited games of the season so far, pitting together squads lavishly assembled by Roman Abramovich and Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour and two former managers of Real Madrid, was decided by a much-maligned £50million striker.
In a thrilling match, a rush of blood saw Joe Hart try to reach a Willian through ball which allowed Torres in to net a crucial winner to extend Chelsea's 100 per cent home start to the Premier League season.
Jose Mourinho celebrated the goal and the extension of his unbeaten Premier League run at Stamford Bridge to 65 games by leaping into the crowd, where he finished the prior home match with Cardiff following his touchline dismissal.
Torres had missed a sitter earlier on and made amends by provided the cross for Andre Schurrle to tap in his first Chelsea goal.
Torres then crashed a shot against the bar after terrorising the City defence with his pace for a second time.
The Spain striker had designs on making the match about one man, but another former Atletico Madrid striker had other ideas and Sergio Aguero struck his ninth goal in seven games four minutes into the second half.
Then Torres struck in a dramatic finale which Hart and City boss Manuel Pellegrini will not want to see again.
Debutant Martin Demichelis - one of three changes to the City side which won at CSKA Moscow - conceded a third-minute corner when not under pressure and Gary Cahill squandered the opportunity to give Chelsea an early lead.
City half cleared and Oscar's cross was met by Cahill, who blasted over.
John Terry had been standing in an offside position, but a flag was not raised and Cahill was left to rue the chance.
City's constant movement - particularly the attacking triumvirate of Aguero, David Silva and Samir Nasri - continually troubled Chelsea.
Frank Lampard was booked for fouling Fernandinho in the centre circle, thwarting another attack as Chelsea tried to get to grips with their opponents.
The hosts were enjoying some space on the right between Silva and Clichy, with the rampaging Branislav Ivanovic and Ramires threatening.
Ramires provided the cross from which Torres should have scored after breaching the City offside trap.
The World Cup-winner chested the ball down and blasted over the bar. A more subtle touch would surely have beaten Hart.
Mourinho's reaction was one of disbelief after investing so much faith in Torres, who had one Premier League goal in 2013 entering the match, against Everton on the final day of last season.
Torres atoned for the miss soon after when Ivanovic flicked the ball on from a goal kick.
Torres surged around Gael Clichy down the Chelsea right and rushed to the byline where he crossed for Schurrle to score.
Chelsea, and Torres in particular, were lifted and the striker smashed a shot on to the bar after another driving run which terrorised the City defence.
Despite his team's forward inroads, Petr Cech had to be on his guard and he saved well from Aguero after the Argentina striker had turned Terry.
City made a fast start to the second half and, after Pablo Zabaleta shot over, were level when Nasri's through ball caught Cahill flat-footed. Aguero ghosted in behind the defender and beat Cech at the near post with an early shot.
Javi Garcia was unmarked when he had a header saved from Silva's free-kick soon after.
Chelsea appealed for a penalty when Eden Hazard went down under the challenge of Zabaleta, but the Belgium forward's cause was not helped by a flamboyant fall which had referee Howard Webb unmoved.
Torres had a header held by Hart and was then cynically blocked by Garcia in a move more at home in Sunday's NFL contest at Wembley.
Try as they might, still Chelsea could not subdue City and Cech saved with his feet from Silva before Mourinho turned to his bench.
He replaced Schurrle with Willian and Lampard with John Obi Mikel, while Pellegrini opted for Jesus Navas in place of Nasri.
The threat of Aguero was constant and he chipped narrowly wide after being found by Silva.
Ramires shot over as an end-to-end contest entered the final 10 minutes and Mourinho made another change, throwing on Samuel Eto'o for Hazard.
Then Torres settled matters in Chelsea's favour. Willian's lofted pass caused a mix-up between Matija Nastasic and Hart, whose latest high-profile error allowed Torres in to score ahead of the covering Demichelis.
Mourinho leapt into the crowd amid the celebrations before Chelsea completed victory.