Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas defends Fernando Torres after miss

By Phil McNultyChief football writer
Chelsea striker Fernando Torres against Man Utd
Torres scored for Chelsea but missed an open goal at the Stretford End

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas defended £50m striker Fernando Torres after his horror miss in the 3-1 defeat at Manchester United - and insists his side will now emerge as serious title contenders.

Torres scored his first goal of the season at Old Trafford but was later guilty of embarrassingly squandering an open goal at the Stretford End after rounding United goalkeeper David de Gea.

It marred an improved Torres performance, but Villas-Boas was in no mood to condemn Chelsea's British record signing as he saw positive signs that he believes will see his side challenge champions United in the Premier League.

He said: "You have to be fair. We have seen two of the world's best strikers miss crazy opportunities, Fernando with his miss and Wayne Rooney with his penalty. This is nothing dramatic but sometimes it becomes something."

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech also backed the Spaniard to bounce back.

"This is one thing in football that happens and what he can remember is he played really well and scored a great goal," said Cech. "I can see every time the guy is improving.

"He also scored a great goal and then got himself another opportunity and, unfortunately, I don't know what happened.

"But I am not worried about it, he will score goals."

"Everybody is counting goals with strikers and it is always like that.

"But if you see Dimitar Berbatov, for example, he got into United not only because he can score goals but because he also created 30 for Tottenham every season.

"That's why they brought him to United and Torres is doing the same. He scores goals and can create them.

"Ideally, you want your striker to score but if Torres creates two goals every game then who cares?"

Sunday's defeat saw Chelsea fall five points behind United in the Premier League but Villas-Boas was still hugely encouraged by his side's display.

"I thought everybody was fantastic with the effort they put in and in being able to mentally react to what happened," said the 33-year-old Portuguese.

"We tried everything to win this game but it was impossible. It just didn't fall our way, not only in terms of opportunities but also refereeing decisions.

"The most important thing is that we believe in the way we are playing and it is for the benefit of everyone.

"The five contenders are up there and anything can happen. The most regular is Manchester United at the moment but we showed we are up to the level of the champions.

"We will be up there competing with them for the title and I'm glad Sir Alex corroborates this opinion."

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