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Fernando Torres woke up to mocking headlines on Monday after his open goal howler against Manchester United but there were signs at Old Trafford that the Spaniard is beginning to rediscover the form that prompted Chelsea to sign him from Liverpool for 50 million pounds.
Since joining in January he has been barely recognisable to the player who scored goals for fun while playing for Atletico Madrid and then Liverpool, managing just one goal in Chelsea blue before doubling his output with his side’s reply in the 3-1 defeat at United.
That finish, a delicate flick with the outside of his right foot after an instinctive burst into the area, was the highlight of a display that, apart from his inexplicable late miss, would have offered plenty of encouragement to coach Andre Villas-Boas and Chelsea’s fans.
He made some telling runs between United’s defence, one of which led to his goal, and his body language looked far more positive throughout the contest.
Al Ahli failed to reach the semi-final stage after drawing 1-1 at home with Esperance of Tunisia in their final group game in the Egyptian capital on Friday.
Unproven at the very top level and having always shown a penchant for a leaky three at the back, the former Genoa boss was undoubtedly not Inter’s first choice when Leonardo left after only six months to seek a new challenge in the boardroom at Paris St Germain.
The easy answer is no.
They were so strong last season that even the final against a good Manchester United side was a stroll.
This term Pep Guardiola’s men have strengthened, if that was possible, with the additions of Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez so it is hard to look past them and their silky skills.
Fierce competition for places in Spain’s frontline for Euro 2012 has increased the pressure on misfiring Chelsea striker Fernando Torres.
La Liga had a familiar look to it on Tuesday morning.
Wealthy behemoths Real Madrid and Barcelona top the standings on goal difference after each recorded emphatic wins against opponents who were utterly outclassed.
It is a bit early to single out Manchester rivals United and City as the only title contenders this season, but it appears highly likely that Arsenal will not be among the chasing pack now headed by the new-look Liverpool and Chelsea.
What is more, the 8-2 hammering the Gunners suffered at Old Trafford suggests that Arsene Wenger’s side might even struggle to finish in the top six, unless the Frenchman can swiftly turn around their fortunes.
By Simon Hart
For a brief moment, it seemed Sir Alex Ferguson really might be mellowing with age.
Twenty-four hours after ending his seven-year feud with the BBC, the Manchester United manager spent part of his weekly news conference on Friday defending the record of his erstwhile chief adversary Arsene Wenger, who comes to Old Trafford with Arsenal on Sunday.
By Rex Gowar
As Argentine Football Association chief Julio Grondona put it, River are not adapting to the second division, the B Nacional is adapting to River.
Jose Mourinho was given a rapturous reception by the Real Madrid faithful when his side entertained Galatasaray in a friendly on Wednesday.
It was a show of unity likely to leave club president Florentino Perez in no doubt that whatever reservations he might have over his stubbornly controversial coach the majority of Madrid supporters love him.