Fernando Torres rediscovered his scoring touch as Spain soared to the top of Euro 2012 Group C and knocked the Republic of Ireland out of the tournament.
You will be hard pressed to find too many similarities between the two matches played in Group C today; the first a slow-burning tactical fight that finished in a draw, the second a fast and furious combination of thunder and blunder. In the aftermath, however, they both posed the same question: whose fault was it?
Five Premier League thoughts after City's Manchester Derby victory:
A rejuvenated Fernando Torres scored a hat-trick on Sunday in the English Premier League as Chelsea thrashed Queens Park Rangers 6-1 at Stamford Bridge.
"The best don't always win," Fernando Torres said after Chelsea's dramatic 2-2 draw away to Barcelona. It's a soccer truism that becomes ever more pronounced at the highest of levels. It's why no one will begrudge Chelsea or Bayern their advancement to the May 19 final at the Allianz Arena, both second legs could have easily turned out very differently. It ultimately came down to missed penalties on Tuesday and Wednesday, a margin of error so small that it should stop us from making sweeping statements. The reasons for success were as complex and open to debate as those for failure.
MALAGA, Spain -- Roberto Soldado had waited long enough already; he wasn't going to wait any more. He made his Spain debut back in 2007 and played just twice, without scoring. For months people had been pleading with the Spain coach Vicente del Bosque to return him to the selección but the coach ignored them. Soldado could have been forgiven for thinking that he was never going to make it, that maybe there was something he didn't know -- some hidden factor that counted against him.
It's that time of year again where we look back on a selection from the standout soccer stories in the year just passed. Here's the best of 2011:
There's being contrary, and then there is ignoring Chelsea this week. The club is rarely out of the British newspapers at the moment -- like a boyband struggling to match its platinum-album past for longer than the odd stadium chorus -- thanks primarily to a number of public displays of disaffection. Sitting out the whole of Chelsea's win over Manchester City this past Monday, Fernando Torres was a picture of gloom; Frank Lampard is unhappy with a cameo role; in Friday's tabloids there is talk that Didier Drogba, who wants a two-year contract extension but has so far been offered only 12 months, might opt for a lucrative move to China (where Nicolas Anelka will be earning £10 million/$15M a year after signing for Shanghai Shenhua). A time of transition? Even the Destiny's Child lineup changed more smoothly than this.
Juan Mata slotted the ball into the net, rushed across to the man who had provided the pass and leapt into his arms. Chelsea had just got its second of the night, securing a 2-0 win against Bayer Leverkusen in its opening Champions League game at Stamford Bridge and the former Valencia player had scored his second goal in just three games. Yet Mata handed the credit to someone else, pointing at the tall, blonde striker who provided the assist: Fernando Torres. The message was clear: cheer him, everyone, cheer him.
Fernando Torres rediscovered his scoring touch with a double at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea romped to a 5-0 win over Genk in their Champions League Group E match Wednesday.
The two key figures in Chelsea's 4-1 win over Swansea City on Saturday weren't on the pitch at the final whistle. They weren't even in sight of it, Fernando Torres having been sent off and Frank Lampard having left the bench a couple of minutes from the end. In their respective narratives is bound up the story of the new Chelsea that is beginning to emerge.
Five thoughts from Saturday's action in the Barclays Premier League ...
Five thoughts from the weekend's action around the world:
Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has defended Fernando Torres after the striker missed an open goal during the club's 3-1 defeat to Manchester United on Sunday.
Manchester United beat Chelsea 3-1 at Old Trafford Sunday in an English Premier League top of the table clash which mixed superb attacking play with comical misses by star strikers Fernando Torres and Wayne Rooney.
Fernando Torres finally ended his goal drought on Saturday as second-placed Chelsea won to boost the club's hopes of retaining the English Premier League title.
In moments of crisis, return to basics. Carlo Ancelotti wrote his dissertation for his coaching diploma on the 4-3-2-1, and it was to the Christmas tree he returned against Manchester United at Old Trafford. It might have been an inspired reversion -- and indeed it did address some of the problems Chelsea had suffered in the first leg -- but in the harsh light of a 2-1 defeat it may seem like a doomed manager scrabbling desperately for the comforts of the familiar.
Manchester United ended 10-man Chelsea's hopes of winning a trophy this season with a 2-1 home victory that put Alex Ferguson's side into the semifinals of the Champions League for the fourth time in five seasons.
Tactical thoughts on the first legs of the Champions League quarterfinals:
Lyon scored a late equalizer against Real Madrid to deny Karim Benzema a victorious return to his old club on Tuesday, while Chelsea moved towards a place in the Champions League quarterfinals with victory at Copenhagen.
Here's what I'm thinking about this Tuesday morning:
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has backed his £50 million ($80.5 million) striker Fernando Torres to live up to his price tag after the Spain striker's disappointing debut against his former club Liverpool.
Chelsea's British record-signing Fernando Torres said on Friday he left Liverpool because the Merseyside club are not yet ready to match his ambitions.
By the time Fernando Torres actually signed his contract with Chelsea on Monday, there were less than 15 minutes of the transfer window remaining. The clock was ticking, and when he put pen to paper, there was relief more than joy. His situation had reached a point of no return, he was in a corner, and yet the risk of having to return felt real. At times during deadline day, Torres had doubted the deal would go through. But a tense and difficult day -- a tense and difficult few months -- finally ended well for Torres. He got what he wanted.
When Carlo Ancelotti arrived at Chelsea in summer 2009, he started off playing 4-4-2 with a midfield diamond. That paired Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba as strike partners, with Frank Lampard tucked behind. It rapidly became apparent that Lampard is far better played with the ball in front of him than playing with his back to goal.
New Chelsea signing Fernando Torres said his transfer deadline-day move to the English Premier League champions from division rivals Liverpool was a "step forward" in his career.
Chelsea target Fernando Torres has submitted a transfer request at Liverpool, but the English Premier League club still insist he is staying with them.
English Premier League club Liverpool have rejected Chelsea's bid for Fernando Torres and insisted the Spain striker is not for sale.
Liverpool secured their first win under returning manager Kenny Dalglish while north-west rivals Manchester United cemented their place at the top in English Premier League action Saturday.
Premier League storylines from the weekend's FA Cup action:
Fernando Torres rediscovered his scoring touch as Liverpool continued their revival under new owners with a 2-0 win over English Premier League leaders Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday.
Liverpool's Spain striker Fernando Torres may miss the struggling English Premier League club's derby clash with city rivals Everton later this month after suffering another injury setback.
Liverpool's star striker Fernando Torres has given the club a huge boost ahead of the new Premier League season by insisting he has no intention of leaving the club.
The streets of Madrid were packed with fans as the Spanish team arrived with the World Cup. CNN's Don Riddell reports.
Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano wants to leave Liverpool, according to the English club's new manager Roy Hodgson, but Spain striker Fernando Torres wants to stay.
English Premier League team Liverpool have been rocked by the news that striker Fernando Torres has suffered a "grade one" groin injury that may force him to miss the start of the new season.
English Premier League side Liverpool are waiting to find out the extent of the injury suffered by Spain striker Fernando Torres during the closing stages of the World Cup final.
Spain striker Fernando Torres may not be fit for the start of the World Cup, according to his English club Liverpool.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez insists Fernando Torres is happy at the English Premier League club after Manchester City were linked with a multi-million dollar bid for the Spain striker.
Spain striker Fernando Torres faces a race against time to be fit for the start of the World Cup after being ruled out for the rest of the European soccer season.
Spain striker Fernando Torres has rejected accusations he put the World Cup before his club Liverpool after he was ruled out of action for six weeks.
English Premier League side Fulham claimed another scalp in the Europa League as they dumped German champions Wolfsburg out of the competition.
Fernando Torres scored twice as Liverpool kept alive their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League after beating Sunderland 3-0 on Sunday to move up to fifth place in the English Premier League.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is set to be without Fernando Torres for six weeks after the English Premier League club revealed he will undergo an operation on his right knee.
Liverpool striker Fernando Torres has backed manager Rafael Benitez to turn the club's fortunes around and reiterated his desire to remain at Anfield for the foreseeable future.
Arsenal and Liverpool boosted their English Premier League title challenges with contrasting victories on Saturday.
Liverpool will be without star striker Fernando Torres for the crucial Champions League visit of Olympique Lyon to Anfield on Tuesday.
Deadly, lethal, prolific -- just a few adjectives often used to describe Team Limey's nightclub performances on a Saturday night. Back in the real world, these are apt descriptions of the elite goal-scorers discussed in this week's column. More specifically, we're looking at who we think will be donning the Golden Boot as the English Premier League's top scorer this season.
Spanish international striker Fernando Torres has signed a new contract with Liverpool that commits him to the English Premier League club until at least 2013 -- and includes an option for him to stay for a further year.
Liverpool striker Fernando Torres scored a hat-trick within 11 first-half minutes, as Spain thrashed New Zealand 5-0 in their opening Confederations Cup Group A match in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Sunday.
Fernando Torres has committed his future to Liverpool by signing a new contract that ties him to the English Premier League runners-up until at least 2013.
Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres combined to destroy Real Madrid's Champions League ambitions as Liverpool powered into the quarterfinals with four goals on the night and 5-0 on aggregate at Anfield.
Liverpool striker Fernando Torres is confident he will be fit for the club's crucial matches in Europe and at home in the next 10 days.
Liverpool breathed new life into their Premier League title bid as substitute Fernando Torres struck deep into injury-time to seal a thrilling 3-2 win at Portsmouth and return the Reds to the top of the table.
Rafael Benitez is facing a "big decision" over whether to risk star striker Fernando Torres for Liverpool's trip to Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday.
Fernando Torres grabbed a late double as Liverpool revitalized their English title hopes with a 2-0 win against 10-man Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday.
Will it be Ballon d'Or holder Cristiano Ronaldo? Or what about Euro 2008 winner Fernando Torres?
It was six months ago that fans were treated to a scintillating European Championship. Here's a look at how the leading actors of Euro 2008 are now faring:
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has recalled Fernando Torres in place of Barcelona's Bojan Krkic in a 21-man squad for this month's World Cup qualifiers against Estonia and Belgium.
All football fans have had the same conversation at some point in their lives. You know the one: "If money was no object, what would your dream team be?"
Liverpool striker Fernando Torres proved the difference between the two sides, as his first-half goal gave Spain a 1-0 victory over Germany in the Euro 2008 final in Vienna.
A first-half goal from Liverpool striker Fernando Torres proved enough to give Spain a 1-0 victory over Germany in the Euro 2008 final in Vienna, ending their 44-year wait for a major tournament success.
David Villa scores a dramatic injury time winner to give Spain a 2-1 victory over Sweden in Innsbruck to put them in the quarterfinals of Euro 2008 by finishing top of Group D.
Fernando Torres equaled a long-standing Liverpool goalscoring record and Arsenal's Niklas Bendtner grabbed a late headed winner as their respective teams secured 1-0 wins in the Premier League on Sunday.
Fernando Torres fired Liverpool into the Champions League quarterfinals with the only goal against 10-man Inter Milan in the San Siro on Tuesday.
Fernando Torres became the fourth Liverpool player to score hat-tricks in successive home games with a sparkling treble in a 4-0 defeat of West Ham, which sent the Anfield side back into the top four of the Premier League.
Disgruntled Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is resigned to losing Fernando Torres for their crucial Premier League game at Chelsea on Sunday.
Robinho's 65th-minute strike was enough to settle a lackluster encounter at chilly Croke Park and send the Republic of Ireland back to the harsh reality of their increasingly frustrating managerial hunt.
Liverpool delivered a final emphatic chapter in their Champions League comeback on Tuesday when they mauled Marseille 4-0 to reach the last-16 knockout phase.
Liverpool's Champions League survival fight will go down to the final match of Group A after a Fernando Torres double helped them to a convincing 4-1victory over group leaders Porto.
Spanish striker Fernando Torres gave Liverpool a major boost when he returned to full training on the eve of Tuesday's must-win Champions League clash against Besiktas at Anfield.
Liverpool's Spanish international striker Fernando Torres will be out of action for three weeks because of an adductor muscle suffered against Arsenal on Sunday.
Fernando Torres is optimistic that he will recover from a thigh injury and be fit to play in Liverpool's Merseyside derby against Everton on Saturday.
Robin van Persie fired two superb goals to send Arsenal back to the top of the English Premier League with a 3-2 victory at home to 10-man Sunderland on Sunday.
Fernando Torres hit a second-half hat-trick to earn Liverpool a place in the fourth round of the English League Cup with a 4-2 win at Reading, sending a timely reminder to coach Rafael Benitez in the process.
Spaniards Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso both scored twice as Liverpool thrashed Derby County 6-0 and went to the top of the English Premier League for the first time in five years.
Fernando Torres scored a debut goal for Liverpool on his first appearance at Anfield but Chelsea salvaged a point with a Frank Lampard penalty after a controversial decision by referee Rob Styles.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez praised record-signing Fernando Torres who scored his first goal for the Merseysiders in the 2-0 friendly win over Chinese side Shanghai in Rotterdam on Friday.
World Sport reporter Pedro Pinto evaluates this summer's big transfer signings. These leading European clubs have all spent over €50 million but which clubs get a gold star and which must try harder?
A massive gamble or a shrewd piece of business? Opinions are divided on Liverpool's near $50 million capture of Spain striker Fernando Torres from Atletico Madrid.
Referee Arturo Dauden Ibanez agreed on Monday that he blundered in disallowing an Atletico Madrid goal in Saturday's local derby with rivals Real Madrid which ended in a 1-1 draw.
A great goal from Fernando Torres earned 10-man Atletico Madrid a 1-1 draw at home to Osasuna in their King's Cup last 16 first leg match on Tuesday.
Atletico Madrid reignited their season when they came from behind to notch up their first win in four games with a classy 3-1 victory at home to Villarreal on Saturday.
Spain striker Fernando Torres has agreed on a one-year extension to his contract with Atletico Madrid that will him tie him to the club until 2009.
Spain striker Fernando Torres has insisted that he has no intention of seeking a transfer from Atletico Madrid.
Spain striker Fernando Torres is keeping Atletico Madrid waiting over his inmmediate plans, the club's coach Javier Aguirre has said.
Spain made their best start to a World Cup finals, demolishing 10-man Ukraine 4-0 on Wednesday on an afternoon the tournament debutants would rather forget.
Spain | Forward
Group H | World ranking: 5
Atletico Madrid completed a stunning Primera Liga double over leaders Barcelona as two goals from Fernando Torres inspired a 3-1 victory on Sunday in the Nou Camp.
Serbia and Montenegro edged bitter rivals Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 with a seventh minute goal from Mateja Kezman to qualify for the World Cup finals.
Atletico Madrid threw the Spanish title race wide open on Sunday when a Fernando Torres double consigned Barcelona to a 2-0 defeat, their first home loss of the season.
Atletico Madrid and Deportivo Coruna played out a tame goalless draw in the opening leg of their King's Cup third round tie on Tuesday.
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