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Torres at the double as Blues crush Genk


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53014ed3d4499eae563dac5.jpgChelsea 5-0 Genk

Torres brace inspires Chelsea to record-equalling win

Fernando Torres scored a quickfire double as a relentless Chelsea routed Belgian champions KRC Genk.

Raul Meireles opened the scoring with a sumptuous opener; drilling the ball home from distance before setting up the second of two goals for Torres, whilst Branislav Ivanovic capped off a wonderful first 45 minutes for the hosts with a header from Florent Malouda's whipped cross.

Salomon Kalou then netted his first goal of the season just four minutes after coming off the bench to complete the rout and maintain Chelsea's one-point advantage over second-placed Bayer Leverkusen, who the Blues must face next month.

It was a professional performance from Andre Villas-Boas' side, and though the Blues evidently took their foot off the pedal after the break with Sunday's derby game with Queens' Park Rangers clearly already occupying the thoughts of both the players and the manager, the home side could have ultimately added to their tally whilst playing out the game in relative comfort.

An impressive showing all-round, it was Torres who stole the headlines with his two goals - but perhaps even more crucially, the former Liverpool star seemed fit and raring for battle after his enforced lay-off through suspension. The World Cup-winning Spaniard - much-maligned for his goalscoring record since his big money move from Liverpool in January - showed glimpses of his match-winning best with a much-improved showing; effortlessly stroking home his first from Frank Lampard's glorious through-ball before heading home moments later from Raul Meireles' delivery from out wide.

Denied a hat-trick only by a fine save from Genk keeper Laszlo Koteles after already hitting the woodwork with an early chance, Torres demonstrated his quality with his trademark combination of pace and skill. Demanding the ball all the time, the Spaniard's work rate was exemplary and his consistent threat to the Genk backline was a joy to witness. After unrelenting torrents of misfortune and bad luck, el Nino looks to have conquered his daemons.

Whilst Torres continues to find his feet thanks to four goals in as many matches at club level, another new recruit from Merseyside, Raul Meireles, impressed once more thanks to a commanding performance in midfield. His long-range strike not only highlights the Portuguese international as another attacking threat from midfield, but his all-round play and defensive discipline have helped convert him into a permanent fixture in the Blues starting line-up since his deadline day transfer from Liverpool.

Villas-Boas will no doubt be delighted with the side's showing, and having been able to rest a number of big name players including John Terry, Daniel Sturridge and Didier Drogba, the performance is evidence of the Portuguese tactician's effective policy of rotation. An obvious flaw of the latter days of the Ancelotti regime were lethargic performances caused by injury and fatigue, but with team morale soaring and a relatively clean bill of health to boot, it would not be an overstatement to say both quality and belief are flowing throughout the Chelsea camp.

Not only have the Blues been able to boast a series of good results this term, but performances have also gradually improved, with this latest rout an example of the flowing, incisive football that was missing for prolonged periods last term. A much-needed clean sheet will encourage Villas-Boas after the Blues' much-publicised defensive shortcomings thus far this campaign.

The effervescent Torres, assuming the role of chief string-puller, had the first opportunity of note as he was found by a delightful chip from Meireles. Taking a touch, the Spanish star's effort clipped the base of the post and the Genk goalkeeper was able to gratefully gather the ball. It was a chance that had perhaps come a touch too early for Torres, but it was a promising sign and ultimately a precursor to what would follow.

Meireles, himself earning unfair criticism from some Chelsea supporters after his last-minute transfer from Liverpool, was playing in a more advanced role with Oriol Romeu occupying the anchor position, enabling the Portuguese star to stamp his authority on the game in an attacking sense and display the flair side of his game. Criticised because he isn't Luka Modric or Joao Moutinho, Meireles played pass after pass with composed conviction, and his glorious through-ball to Torres for that early chance was another case study in his under-rated vision and guile.

But he certainly endeared himself to Chelsea fans in a direct manner on 7 minutes when he marauded forward before arrowing a shot beyond Koteles - a shot that the goalkeeper could only admire as it nestled neatly in the bottom corner of the net. It was a truly fantastic effort from the former Porto man - and, ironically, it was his first strike in the Champions League since netting a superb volley for Porto against the Blues back in February 2007 at the Dragao.

Torres then followed suit minutes later when he expertly converted his next chance; opening his body up to thread the ball past the advancing Koteles after taking a neat through-ball from Lampard into his path. Again, Torres' last strike in the competition had been in Liverpool colours in April 2009, when Chelsea ran out 3-1 victors on a famous night at Anfield under Guus Hiddink's short reign in the Chelsea hot-seat, but all past transgressions were forgotten as he celebrated his third of the season.

It would take only twenty-three minutes for the Blues to extend their lead further, Torres again the scorer, this time with a deft header. A neat passing move down the right saw Nicolas Anelka, another who was enjoying an excellent game, though in a more selfless capacity than one would expect from the Frenchman, play the ball to Meireles, who showed his class with an excellent delivery into the box for his former Liverpool colleague. Torres made no mistake in directing the ball into the roof of the net.

Twenty-year old Oriol Romeu, making his Champions League bow on just his second start for the club, was showing no lack of experience in central midfield, orchestrating things effortlessly with a combination of tough tackling and simple, efficient passing, and he was instrumental in instigating wave after wave of Chelsea attack; the next foray forward seeing Frank Lampard miscue his header wide after Torres had turned creator out wide.

Florent Malouda had fired into the side-netting moments before compatriot Anelka was equally wasteful with Torres once more drifting out onto the flanks, but Chelsea were encamped inside the Genk half and after David Luiz had seen a free-kick well fielded by Koteles, the Blues extended their lead further when Branislav Ivanovic leapt highest to convert Florent Malouda's free-kick for his first of the season.

After being so ruthless in front of goal, the Chelsea players seemed to have swapped their shooting boots during the interval after a whole host of respectable chances were wasted. With Paulo Ferreira coming on for Ashley Cole, there was a sudden imbalance to the side's attacking play with the thrust of the left flank somewhat muted by the Ferreira's introduction, and that left the onus on Nicolas Anelka out on the right to supply some much-needed drive.

The Frenchman drilled a shot just wide of the target before turning provider for Jose Bosingwa, who saw a stinging effort kept out by Koteles. Malouda was then guilty of passing up a glorious chance when he was sent clean through by Lampard, but instead of squaring for Anelka in the middle, he greedily went for goal and saw his effort blocked by the feet of the goalkeeper. It was a great opportunity for Malouda to cross for Anelka to convert the goal he so deserved, but instead the advantage was one of a four-goal lead.

Lampard was then penalised for his honesty in the 58th minute after attempting to stay on his feet when he was clearly fouled in the Genk penalty area - and he was hauled off soon afterwards for a much-deserved rest, replaced by Salomon Kalou. The Ivorian wasted no time in staking his claim for more first-team action; scoring four minutes in to his cameo appearance after Torres' hat-trick chance was superbly kept out by Koteles.

As the game petered out into what amounted to little more than a glorified training session for the home side, Malouda had the last chance of the game as he headed over from Anelka's cross - and the final whistle sounded to a rapturous ovation from the Stamford Bridge faithful. Genk had been well-beaten but will have won many friends for their open style of play despite an injury crisis at the back, but only some wasteful shooting had denied the Blues a bigger winning margin. Nonetheless, a 5-0 scoreline is one that matches Chelsea's biggest-ever Champions League victory, equalling their mauling of Galatasaray back in 1999.

For Andre Villas-Boas, it is yet another encouraging sign of what is still to come from this Chelsea side in transition. The Portuguese's tactic of squad rotation is one currently paying rich dividends, but with a host of difficult fixtures on the horizon and a congested winter programme being exacerbated by the impending African Cup of Nations in the new year, greater challenges of the strength-in-depth of this Chelsea side will result in sterner examination.

Mediation is perhaps the best perspective to adopt in light of this result, but it should be pointed out that whilst the two Manchester clubs and Arsenal toiled to barely-deserved wins, this free-scoring Chelsea side are making light of a competitive Champions League group and will have one foot in the next round with a win in Belgium in a fortnight's time.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Bosingwa (Alex 77), Ivanovic, Luiz, Cole (Ferreira 46); Meireles, Romeu, Lampard © (Kalou 67); Anelka, Torres, Malouda.

KRC Genk (4-4-2): Koteles; Ngongca, Masuero (Camus 46), Tozser ©, Pudil; Buffel, Vanden Borre, Hyland, de Bruyne; Vossen (Nwanganga 80), Barda (Ndabashinze 70)

The TalkChelsea.net MAN OF THE MATCH award goes to Chelsea's number 9: FERNANDO TORRES

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good review as always :)

Love how the media cretins only focus on how bad Genk were yet when United needed 2 pens to beat a Romanian side they laud them for their patience and chracter.

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Brilliat Review as always Alex ;)

Oriol was very solid from the little i saw, hope he stays rather then going back at Barca.

I'm sure standing on the pitch listening to the CL anthem, Oriol realized that's not a moment he'd be having at Barca at his age.

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