MISFIRING £50m striker Fernando Torres admitted his relief last night after finally ending his 25-hour wait for a goal as Chelsea continued their resurgence by storming into the FA Cup semi-finals.
Having failed to hit the net for almost five months, Torres scored twice inside 18 second-half minutes, with Salomon Kalou, Gary Cahill and Raul Meireles also helping to set up a potential all-London clash with Tottenham. It was a fourth successive win for caretaker boss Roberto di Matteo since the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas and, for Torres, the blessed end of the most talked-about barren spell in the European game.
“I needed those goals,” said Torres. “I’ve been working so hard to get them. Maybe the job of a striker is to score goals and if you don’t do it people think you’re playing badly. But the support has been here and I feel the confidence of the manager now.”
Di Matteo, who also steered the Blues to a landmark Champions League comeback against Napoli last week, toasted another step on the road to recovery for the team – and Britain’s costliest player.
He said: “I think the whole team, the club and supporters are happy [for Torres]. He’s a great team player. You get rewarded when you work hard in life and we’re all happy that he helped us win. Every game we’ve won has given the players, and the team, a little more confidence.”
Defender Cahill headed Chelsea into the lead with his first for the club in the 12th minute, and marked it by revealing a T-Shirt bearing a message of support for seriously ill former Bolton colleague Fabrice Muamba.
Kalou stroked a second before half-time but the game’s highlight came on 67 minutes when, after 152 days of waiting, Torres collected a Meireles pass and slotted low past Kasper Schmeichel.
Jermaine Beckford pounced on a rebound to throw Leicester a lifeline 10 minutes later, but it was soon overshadowed by Torres’ second, a flicked header, despite a late second for the Championship outfit, Ben Marshall’s spectacular long-range effort.
FA CUP SEMI-FINAL DRAW
Tottenham or Bolton v Chelsea
Liverpool v Everton or Sunderland
Ties to be held at Wembley on 14 and 15 April