Reds spoil Fernando Torres' welcome party
THE build-up to this fixture had been solely and comprehensively about the actions of one particular Spaniard.
Not for a long time has one footballer dominated the headlines in the run-up to a Premier League game.
This was set to be the Fernando Torres show at Liverpool’s expense, the rebirth of Chelsea’s new £50million man after fleeing Merseyside on a supposed quest for silverware and glory.
But the Reds were determined to gatecrash the party and they did just that it in beautifully destructive style.
The sense of theatre couldn’t have been better staged.
Before kick-off, the circus-style Stamford Bridge pitch announcer publicly hailed three people as he strode about the pitch with microphone in hand.
Ex-Chelsea and now Liverpool coach Steve Clarke and one-time Stamford Bridge right-back Glen Johnson were singled out, before a special razzmatazz welcome was voiced for the new £50m Fernando Torres.
Well, he certainly got his first two tributes right.
On 65 minutes, Torres was withdrawn from the action by Carlo Ancelotti, bringing an end to an ineffectual afternoon for the Spaniard.
Four minutes later, almost on cue, Liverpool had taken the lead.
Raul Meireles brilliantly hooked past Petr Cech to send the travelling Scouse support into unabated delirium.
This was akin to the Portuguese midfielder – whose contribution has been immense in recent weeks – defiantly declaring to Torres, “We’re the club on the up!”
“You should have stayed at a big club”, crowed the Liverpool support as a disgruntled Torres wrapped up warm on the bench.
With the Reds matching and outperforming Chelsea in every department, that chant was perfectly timed.
Make no mistake, this was a hugely deserved win for Kenny Dalglish’s men who served up a performance of guts, commitment and no little skill.