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Rafa hails resurgent Torres but coy on contract for landmark Lampard

Chelsea's Fernando Torres celebrates scoring his team's first goal against Aston Villa. Photo: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire Chelsea's Fernando Torres celebrates scoring his team's first goal against Aston Villa. Photo: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

Monday, December 24, 2012
8:47 AM

Fernando Torres is playing with confidence and that is why he is back in the scoring groove, according to Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez.

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The much-maligned Spanish striker scored the first of his side’s eight goals without reply against Aston Villa yesterday, heading in a cross from just inside the box.

It was a goal that few would have said the 28-year-old was capable of scoring a month ago as he continued to fail to justify his £50million transfer fee.

As owner Roman Abramovich hoped, though, the arrival of Benitez, the man who brought Torres to England, has sparked a revival in the former Liverpool and Atletico Madrid hitman, who has now scored seven goals in his last six games to double his tally for the season.

“He’s a striker. He needed to score goals. The team is doing well, he’s having more chances, and he has more confidence as a result,” Benitez said.

Another to enjoy himself yesterday was veteran midfielder Frank Lampard.

Despite his hero status at Stamford Bridge, an extension to his rapidly-expiring contract has yet to materialise and he has been strongly linked with a move away.

He shrugged that off against Villa, however, marking his 500th Premier League start with a brilliant goal from distance that made him Chelsea`s all-time record league goalscorer.

“He’s an important player for us. He’s training well, doing well, his commitment is there. I’m really pleased for him scoring another goal, so everything is positive,” Benitez said.

“We still have a long season to play, but he’s doing well. The squad that we have is a good squad and we have to keep the balance. We have lost Oriol [Romeu], so we have managed with David Luiz in the middle, but we are managing the squad as best we can. If we can, it’ll be easier.”

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