FULHAM (0) vs CHELSEA(0)
Torres subbed again after another limp display
Ancelotti defends his record purchase
Title gone for good despite Cech penalty save
CHELSEA manager Carlo Ancelotti defended another tepid display from Fernando Torres but admitted his side’s hopes of retaining their Premier League crown are over after frittering away two points against their west London rivals.
Ancelotti made a bold call in omitting Didier Drogba from his starting line-up and persevering with Torres, whose debut against his former club Liverpool last week ended after 65 minutes.
The Spaniard may have swapped red for blue, but it looks like it will take more than a change of shirt colour for him to rediscover the poise and swagger which made him the apple of Roman Abramovich’s eye.
Chelsea were far more dangerous once Drogba was summoned from the bench to replace Torres, who had missed three presentable chances, in the 71st minute, but he couldn’t force a winner and in the end it took an injury time penalty save from Petr Cech to preserve a point.
Justifying his selection and the performance of £50m striker Torres, Ancelotti said: “Fernando played well. He had some opportunities in the first half and I took him out just to use Didier fresh and with power. That’s the only reason I changed him.
“Every striker wants to score. I don’t think he's frustrated because he needs time to play with us and, after one week, he was really better tonight after that first performance.
“I don’t know if Didier was happy, but every player knows every game is important. It doesn’t matter. We wanted to rotate to maintain his condition and to give everyone great motivation.”
Torres missed two opportunities in the first-half which he made more difficult for himself as a result of poor first touches and was off target with a header in the second-half.
But it was Fulham who missed the clearest opportunity of the game when the otherwise impressive David Luiz felled Clint Dempsey in the 93rd minute.
Fortunately for Chelsea, Dempsey struck his penalty too close to Cech and the American’s acrobatic attempt to convert the rebound was hardly Rooney-esque in its accuracy.
Despite an uplifting end to the derby, Ancelotti was realistic enough to know that fourth place is now the priority as far as the league goes.
“The most important thing is to finish in the top four,” he said. “I think we will be able to do this if we play like we did tonight.
“I’m an optimist and there’s good reason to have confidence. The football we showed tonight was good and now we have to continue it.”