Fernando Torres got his reward for an irrepressible display that he has rarely produced for Chelsea when he scored a last-minute winner after a defensive mix-up in a 2-1 Premier League victory over Manchester City on Sunday.
The Spain striker, who set up Andre Schuerrle’s first-half goal, missed a sitter and also struck the woodwork, gleefully fired into an empty net after City defender Matija Nastasic’s header back to Joe Hart went sailing past the outrushing goalkeeper.
Sergio Aguero had leveled soon after halftime for City as victory lifted Chelsea back up to second place, level on 20 points with Liverpool and two behind leaders Arsenal.
“In a game like this against a great team in the last minutes it tastes much better to score. We controlled the game and created many chances, but Sergio Aguero can score goals at any time,” Torres told Sky Sports. “We won a game we deserved to win, we are really pleased to beat a contender for the title.”
Roberto Soldado’s 80th-minute penalty secured Tottenham Hotspur a 1-0 home win over Hull City and lifted them up to fourth, while Sunderland moved off the foot of the table after substitute Fabio Borini lashed in a superb late winner in a 2-1 derby victory over Newcastle United.
Italian Borini, on loan from Liverpool, lifted the gloom at the Stadium of Light when he thundered a long-range rocket past a flailing Tim Krul six minutes from time to hand Sunderland their first league win of the season.
Torres’ late goal had manager Jose Mourinho celebrating with fans in the stands, and left City manager Manuel Pellegrini stony-faced and in no mood to shake the Portuguese’s hand after the final whistle.
German Schuerrle, signed from Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the summer, notched his first Chelsea goal when he turned in a Torres cross from close range on 33 minutes after the Spaniard had burst past Gael Clichy and pulled the ball back from close to the byline.
Torres had moments earlier missed a golden opening when left unmarked with just Hart to beat, blazing over the bar, but after setting up Schuerrle, the striker grew in confidence and was close to netting a superb second, turning inside from a tight angle and blasting against the woodwork.
City had the better of the second half, leveling when Aguero ran on to Samir Nasri’s pass to smash a shot past Petr Cech for his sixth goal in the last four league games.
A smart save by Cech with his legs then denied David Silva a goal and the game appeared to be heading for a draw until Willian lofted the ball forward, and a breakdown in communication between Nastasic and Hart cost the visitors dear.
“From tomorrow, we will think about the best way to stop the problems of losing away,” Pellegrini said after a defeat which left City in seventh place. “We are losing stupid points, the three defeats we got away we did not deserve. We have time to arrange.”
Hull defended stoutly to frustrate Spurs at White Hart Lane, but their resistance was broken when Jan Vertonghen’s cross hit the arms of Ahmed Elmohamady and Soldado scored from the spot.
England winger Andros Townsend needed lengthy treatment late on when he went flying over the advertising hoardings, emerging after a few minutes to resume the game with his wrist bandaged.
Relieved Sunderland manager Gus Poyet hailed his side’s win over Newcastle as a stepping stone to brighter times.