Belfast Telegraph

Di Matteo hails Torres resurgence

Chelsea's interim manager Roberto Di Matteo is delighted by the rejuvenation of a "happy" Fernando Torres.

Torres has performed with greater conviction since Di Matteo replaced Andre Villas-Boas at the start of the month. Although he remains far from prolific in goalscoring terms - he has been on target only six times in 37 appearances this season - his recent contribution to the team has been significant.

On Tuesday night it was his burst of pace and cross that set up Salomon Kalou's late winner in the 1-0 Champions League victory over Benfica. Di Matteo said: "We're just happy that Fernando's performing well for us. He's a very good player and a great, great team player."

He added: "I've been trying to speak to all my players and give them the confidence to play. Fernando seems to have been performing well. He's a happy player at the moment, but all players need particular attention."

Chelsea have been lifted by their success at Benfica, a result that has enabled them to place one foot in the Champions League semi-finals.

But their cup form under Di Matteo - four wins in as many games - contrasts with their difficulties in the Barclays Premier League which has seen them triumph just once in three outings.

They sit five points adrift of the Champions League places and Di Matteo accepts it is time to climb the table - starting with Saturday clash with Aston Villa.

"We need to win points in the Premier League. We have played Stoke, City and Spurs," he said.

"It's difficult against Stoke. They drew at White Hart Lane and at Manchester City, so we know how strong they are.

We're in good form and shape, though. The spirit's good and we'll try to take that into the next game. When you win, the confidence flows into the players and team. We'll try and take that into the next game."

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