Fernando Torres got back to scoring ways on Wednesday with two goals in Chelsea's 6-1 win over Nordsjaelland but manager Rafa Benitez still had to defend the striker after he declined to take either of two first-half penalties at Stamford Bridge.
Torres had netted just once in two confidence-sapping months before the final Group E clash but the Spaniard appeared in no hurry to end that barren spell. Eden Hazard missed Chelsea's first spot kick and when another one was awarded a few minutes later it was defender David Luiz who stepped up to fire it past Jesper Hansen.
Torres did get on the scoresheet on the stroke of halftime, benefitting from a slice of luck when Hansen's block came back to his feet, and he warmed to the task after the break when he tapped in his second goal after a great link-up with Hazard.
It was Torres' reluctance to take a penalty -- he also was not involved in the Champions League final shoot-out against Bayern Munich -- that Benitez found himself talking about. "With penalties you have to have some players and the two were Hazard and Luiz," Benitez explained to reporters. "You don't always need a striker to take penalties if you have other players maybe who are more calm or (have) more composure.
At Liverpool we had Gerrard. "In the future maybe Torres will take them but now we have Hazard and Luiz." Initially hesitant, Torres did produce an energetic performance and looked hungry for the ball as Chelsea tore a sub-standard Danish side to shreds after the break. "I hope Fernando can go on from this," he said. "If he can continue to play at this level he can score more goals.
"The team played well and I said before if the team plays well Torres will score goals. "Yesterday I was watching him in the training session and he was little bit sharp with more confidence, and today he was fine and the rest of team was also helping because we were playing good football with intensity. "Torres showed his desire and his quality and if we can play at this level he can score more goals."
While the mood at Stamford Bridge was glum as Chelsea became the first holders to bow out of the Champions League at the group stage, the manner of their victory, albeit against a side that conceded 22 goals in six matches, at least offered a glimmer of light amidst the recent gloom. "If we had won just 1-0 or 2-1 then maybe the players will only think it is a pity (that we are out)," Benitez said after his first win since replacing Roberto Di Matteo.
"But at the moment we can see they are not happy but there is also the feeling they did well today, suggesting the future can be good." (Editing by Greg Stutchbury)