CHELSEA manager Andre Villas-Boas praised Fernando Torres after the revitalised striker’s brace helped demolish Genk and equal the club’s record Champions League win.
Raul Meireles, Branislav Ivanovic and Salomon Kalou also netted as the Blues ran riot against the Belgian champions.
But it was Torres, who is finally rediscovering the form that persuaded Chelsea to pay a British record £50m for him in January, who shone the brightest.
“Fernando found scoring positions, but we like to promote collective performance as well as individual performance,” said Villas-Boas. “We are able to choose from the best. The choice fell to Fernando today and he performed very well.”
Despite a planned boycott by some fans over ticket price rises, more than 38,000 turned out, albeit boosted by at least 1,000 giveaway seats, to see Chelsea stride to within a win of qualification for the last 16.
“It was a very good display by the team, very focused and very concentrated, and this was decisive,” Villas-Boas added. “The boys kept going through the first half fantastically well, keeping the rhythm high. It was a good result, it puts us in a good position going ito Genk [next month].”
Torres missed Saturday’s Premier League win over Everton due to suspension but showed no early rustiness on his return to the starting line-up, hitting the post even before Chelsea opened the floodgates.
First Meireles punished Genk’s defence for standing off by drilling a fizzing drive into the bottom-left corner on eight minutes.
Torres then took over, gathering Frank Lampard’s pass and advancing into the penalty area before stroking low past goalkeeper Laszlo Koteles three minutes later.
The Spaniard claimed his second of the night, nipping in front of his marker to glance home a right-wing cross from Meireles just before the half hour mark and Ivanovic made it four before half-time with a header from Malouda’s free-kick.
Torres, who scored just one in his first 24 Chelsea games but now has four in four, should have completed his hat-trick when Jose Bosingwa crossed teasingly but his finish was parried and Kalou gleefully poached the rebound.