Big Match Verdict on Chelsea 0-2 Newcastle: Torres has been transformed in a week

Fernando Torres has been transformed in little over a week.

In fact, the Spaniard was the odd man out for long periods at Stamford Bridge last night.

Torres was easily Chelsea's most dangerous player as he looked lively, went close and laid on chances for his team mates.

The striker is quite simply unrecognisable from the player who came on as a second half substitute in Barcelona a week last Tuesday - the player who horribly miscontrolled a pass, wasted an opening and left most people wondering whether he could ever get back to his old self.

But that breakaway goal at the Nou Camp, taking the ball from deep and then rounding Victor Valdes, put him on the road to redemption.

A hat-trick against QPR on Sunday and Torres appears to be on the comeback trail.

Torres has never lost his popularity with the Chelsea faithful, but even they sang his name louder.

It was clear from the moment he took down a nearly-impossible-to-deal-with Branislav Ivanovic pass early on that he was in the mood.

Torres' cross set up the best first half chance for Florent Malouda, but the French midfielder flashed a header wide of the target.

The striker's movement, running and work rate gave Newcastle's defence all sorts of problems and he gave Fabricio Coloccini a torrid evening.

Torres has spent the last 15 months living in Didier Drogba's shadow, because his rival still looks one of the most powerful and deadly strikers in the Premier League.

But at last Torres appears to have risen to the challenge.

It used to be that even when Chelsea played well, Torres played poorly.

Here, it was the other way round.

Torres showed enough quality, drive and determination to make people believe in him again.

He used to be one of the best strikers in the world.

If he can ever get back there, it will be one hell of a comeback story.

A few weeks ago, it would have been unthinkable for Torres to start ahead of Drogba in one of the big games.

Now Torres is giving Roberto Di Matteo something to think about.

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williamhill.com

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