One area where Torres is out-performing Barcelona star Messi

Fernando Torres May 2012

Maligned Chelsea striker actually in top three in Europe…

Fernando Torres' brace against Schalke 04 on Tuesday evening has catapulted him into the Champions League/Europa League striking elite for the calendar year, where he is fast closing in on one of the continent's hottest goal-scoring properties: Robert Lewandowski; and a former Premier League favourite at Manchester United - Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Chelsea striker Torres has found goals hard to come by when campaigning domestically. Perpetually under scrutiny for every misplaced pass and every missed effort on goal, the one arena where the Spaniard appears comfortable, is returning goals in the Europa League (nine in total last season, six in 2013) and in the Champions League (two to date, both converted midweek).

Torres has always been publicly backed by club manager Jose Mourinho and is confident he can pay the Portuguese back with vital goals. He told the Independent: 'He talks with me like he talks with everyone else. I know he likes people who work and it's all about work. With him, work hard and you will have the reward.

'We all know him, every team he's managed gets success and goes on to the last round in the competitions they play. It's going to be great to have his experience. He knows how to motivate the group. It sometimes takes lots of time, but at the end it will come. I was happy with the Schalke game. Hopefully it's the start of many games in a row of scoring goals.'

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See also: Schalke reaction, Torres now a beast & Hazard or Bebe?

Of all Chelsea's high-profile forwards: Torres, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto'o, it is only the latter who has scored for the Blues in the Premier League, having netted an opportunity against Cardiff City last weekend. While all are competing for limited playing time, when speaking with the club's official website Torres was insistent that there is no rivalry between them.

'We have three very good strikers and hopefully all of us can score goals. When I play I hope to score goals and when Samuel and Demba (Ba) play they have to score as well, so this competition is very healthy.'

Mourinho, meanwhile, added to The Guardian: 'Torres's goals will boost the team, for sure, and that's the most important thing [and] what will boost him is the confidence I have in him. Samuel [Eto'o] played a very good game against Cardiff and scored the decisive goal but I thought Fernando was better adapted for this game. If he didn't play well and the team didn't have a result, people would have asked why we had changed. But I had faith in him and he did well.

'He must be happy now.'

Torres' haul of eight European goals to date in 2013 stands him one better than Barcelona attacker Lionel Messi.

Torres scored against Steaua Buchurest in March, thrice against Rubin Kazan in two legs, once against FC Basel in May and, of course, in the Europa League final against Benfica.

 NAME CLUB GOALS
 Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid 11
 Robert Lewandowski Borussia Dortmund 9
 Fernando Torres Chelsea 8
 Oscar Cardoza Benfica 7
 Lionel Messi Barcelona 7

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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