Benitez defends Torres
Rafael Benitez has defended misfiring Chelsea striker Fernando Torres following another ineffective performance against Sparta Prague.
Torres missed several chances in the Europa League match at Stamford Bridge on Thursday, as Chelsea were forced to rely on a goal from Eden Hazard to reach the round of 16, seeing off Sparta 2-1 on aggregate following a 1-1 draw in the second leg.
A 50 million-pound signing from Liverpool in January 2011, Torres has failed to perform consistently during his time in west London, but interim Chelsea coach Benitez stood by the Spain international. "He (Torres) didn't play badly tonight," Benitez said. "You can analyse a striker for the number of goals he scores.
Maybe you're right. But he did a great job for the team tonight. "It's not easy against a team playing deep, but he was winning the ball in the air, bringing options for those around him. "I thought he was playing well. I disagree he was playing badly. But of course we want him to take the chances that come his way.
"If he continues working like today and playing like he did today, he will score goals. I'm convinced about that." Chelsea failed to impress their supporters as they laboured to dispatch supposedly inferior opposition, but Benitez felt his players acquitted themselves well against a team that set out to defend in numbers. "We knew that it could be like this and we knew what we had to do," Benitez said. "We didn't do well in one or two situations, and it's something we have to improve. We have to keep working."
"We had 22 attempts and clear chances. We didn't score until the end, but we had 60 percent of the possession and did well. "We made two or three mistakes and gave them opportunities to counter, but we still did enough to deserve to go through." Chelsea will meet Romanian side Steaua Bucuresti in the round of 16.