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What next for Fernando Torres?

Fernando Torres scored Chelsea’s winner against Steaua Bucharest on Thursday night to take the Blues through to the last eight of the Europa League.

The £50 million man has had a torrid time for the most part since his move to Stamford Bridge in 2011 and last night he finally ended his seemingly endless goal-draught in the 71st minute – only his second goal in the last 20 games for the Blues.

Patience is something that’s hard to come by at Stamford Bridge these days but interim manager Rafael Benitez will surely have felt as much of a weight lifted from his shoulders as his compatriot Torres – not only did the Spaniard score the winner but the Blues progress in the competition after what has been a disappointing and frustrating season for the club, the fans and the boss.

“Hopefully it will be the first of a lot,” said Benitez after the game.

“It was an important goal for him. Two days ago he was scoring lots of goals in training. We knew he was close to top form.”

Whilst the manager is entitled to his optimism, his assertion that Torres is ‘close to top form’ is a widely speculative assessment, in my humble opinion. Torres has been and still is nowhere near the form that he is capable of – as Benitez knows full well from his time at Liverpool with Torres.

Torres goal will undoubtedly give him a desperately needed boost in confidence and, for the team, morale but his missed penalty in the 86th minute of Thursday’s game demonstrates that the striker is still going have to do a lot of rebuilding work on his confidence and form.

Despite what the manager hopes, his goal was just the first step. I don’t want to draw negative conclusions from the game – Torres had a fantastic burst and run into the box from the right hand side just minutes after he scored – that elusive goal he’s been ardently searching for will give him a good foundation to build on.

However, the look of torment we’ve become accustomed to seeing marked on his face in recent weeks, months and even years returned as his spot kick bounced off the crossbar.

His goal is certainly reason for optimism that he can resuscitate his form and, to an extent, his career at Stamford Bridge but let’s not be hasty – Fernando Torres still has a long way to go.

image: © Wshjackson

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