Chelsea starred in an entertaining match that gave manager Andre Villas-Boas a welcome beginning to life in the Champions League. With several key players rested with Manchester United at the weekend, it was up to Torres to put on his shooting boots leading the pack at the front. And it did not take long for action to begin. Torres could easily have had a hat-trick, and one goal that should have stood was flagged offside as Raul Meireles was adjudged to have flicked it goalwards, with replays showing he had no touch.
Chelsea started the fresher of the two, in contrast to Torres’ comments of his team-mates being slow, but it was Leverkusen who had the ball in the net first, ruled offside, just a few seconds before the Torres one. Torres had more opportunities, teed up by Mata, but it was not to be, and as time wore on, with the exception of a few chances for Daniel Sturridge, Bayer Leverkusen came back into the match.
After the break, Bayer Leverkusen really should have taken the lead. With no-one but his former team-mate Petr Cech to beat, Michael Ballack shot straight at him to mark an unhappy return to Stamford Bridge. Just after the hour mark, AVB decided changes were needed, with Sturridge (who had hit the post seconds earlier) and Meireles being hauled off – Anelka and Lampard on to hopefully provide something different. Yet it was the players remaining on the pitch that caused the difference. Mata passed to Ashley Cole down the left flank who in turn played the ball into Fernando Torres. With his back to goal, he precisely lay the ball off to David Luiz, who scored a wonderful goal from the edge of the box that Torres himself would be proud of. The celebrations by Luiz showed just how much Chelsea have missed him due to his thigh injury.
As time wore on, Leverkusen got more and more tired. Chelsea grew in confidence and the win was duly wrapped up with another Torres assist, this time for Mata to sidefoot home.
AVB promised changes to his side and changes we got – JT rested completely with Lampard and Anelka on the bench. With that, Cech became captain. A very encouraging performance from all, Torres huffed and puffed but was more or less isolated at the front, leaving him to run and run but not actually get anywhere. But with two assists, Torres can look more confident and be satisfied with the performance.
With AVB’s debut in Abramovich’s “obsession”, there were no signs of nerves, just the standard animated Andre, bouncing up and down with every pass and tackle. But though the scoreline remained 1-0 for all but the last kick of the match, the performance was much more comfortable. 21 attempts to Leverkusen’s 10, and controlling 60% of the possession, AVB and Chelsea can be very happy and take away many positives. Hopefully, the same positives can be shown on Sunday.