x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Hodgson: Winning goal will be a weight off Torres' mind

Fernando Torres ended a run of six matches without a goal with the winner in Liverpool's Premier League victory over Blackburn.

Liverpool 2 // Blackburn Rovers 1

LIVERPOOL // Roy Hodgson believes Fernando Torres is rediscovering the joy of football after receiving something of a battering over the last five months.

The striker, 26, scored only his second goal of the season in the 2-1 win at home to Blackburn Rovers yesterday but, crucially, it was the winner. Rumours have been rife about the Spain international’s happiness under the new regime at Anfield, but Hodgson thinks other matters have been weighing him down.

“Fernando played well today, an awful lot better. In my opinion that was his best performance for the team this season,” the Liverpool manager said. “It is very nice when you have had a good performance and caused as many problems as he did and looked as likely to score as he did on so many occasions that he actually got one and put it in the back of the net.

“He will be very happy tonight and we will need him to score many more goals if we are really going to move into a position in the table where we think we should be.

“He was very down when he came back from the World Cup. Maybe people do get a bit down when they are constantly criticised left, right and centre.

“He obviously was affected by the amount of criticism he took during the World Cup and, of course, then the criticism which has come to the club and myself when we haven’t produced the performances.

“I think maybe he is starting to come out of that and find the joy of playing again and re-find his energy and intensity.”

Paul Robinson, the Blackburn goalkeeper, kept his side in the game in the opening half, but three minutes after the interval Sotirios Kyrgiakos put Liverpool ahead. Moments later a mix-up in defence saw Paul Konchesky’s goal-line clearance from El-Hadji Diouf’s shot cannon back off Jamie Carragher and into the net – the defender’s seventh Premier League own goal which equalised for Blackburn.

However, just five minutes after going in front for the first time Torres drifted in at the far post to sidefoot home Joe Cole’s cross, his fifth in four matches against Rovers. Sam Allardyce, the Blackburn manager, felt the absence of central defenders Christopher Samba (suspended) and Ryan Nelsen (injured) cost them.

“We did a sterling job trying to hang on in the first half, particularly Paul Robinson,” he said. “We could not cope with the aerial side of Liverpool because of the loss of Chris and Ryan and we eventually cracked.”