The Blues striker was the match winner versus the Hungarian champions, but it was almost another bad night for him at Stamford Bridge
The Fernando Torres comparisons have been around for almost a year now for Alvaro Morata – but his form was becoming so bad that he was in danger of being regarded as an even poorer signing than his compatriot.
Like Torres before him, Morata broke Chelsea’s transfer record when signed for £58 million ($75m) plus add-ons from Real Madrid in the summer of 2017.
Life at Stamford Bridge started promisingly for the Spain international, but below-par performances have been an increasingly regular sight for the ex-Juventus forward.
Thursday’s Europa League clash against Vidi, though, was developing into something quite special even by his standards.He squandered five first-half chances, then failed to even get his head on a pin-point cross from Willian after the interval.
For a striker, though, it is most worrying when the chances stop coming. For a period against the Hungarians they did, but after 70 minutes he combined brilliantly with Cesc Fabregas and Willian to score, thereby saving his face and that of his team.
The finish was a fine one, too, as he volleyed past Tomas Tujvel to make it 1-0 in what on paper was Chelsea’s easiest Group L game.
The celebration, meanwhile, was more one of relief than joy in what was the poorest performance under Maurizio Sarri to date.
Morata needs as many goals as possible against whatever opposition his manager selects him to play after dropping below the equally goal shy Olivier Giroud in the pecking order.
The 25-year-old had already professed his loyalty to Chelsea, despite a summer of transfer rumours linking him with a move back to Italy, but the goals have not, so far, followed.
A solitary strike against Arsenal this season showed that Sarri might have the same problems that Antonio Conte had with his big signing, but he still has time to rectify his poor beginning in English football.
Thursday’s winning goal isn’t enough on its own to repair his reputation, and the run of goals that fans had hoped for after his brilliant Arsenal strike needs to follow.
The Blues have been over-reliant on Eden Hazard this season, during which they are so far undefeated, and they were struggling so much against Vidi that he was thrown on as a second-half substitute.
The Belgian has seven goals this season – as many as Morata, Giroud, Pedro and Willian combined – yet it is upon Morata the expectation of being the other scorer leading marksman falls.
Owner Roman Abramovich will still want his transfer fee repaid at some point and his four goals in 2018 are just not enough.
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In truth, Chelsea were poor all over the pitch and afforded Vidi four or five fine chances of their own – this after producing two great performances against Liverpool in the league and cup – but it was going forward where they appeared most deficient.
Ironically, Torres actually thrived in the Europa League and played a major role in their 2013 success.
Nevertheless, the Spaniard is still remembered as a Stamford Bridge flop, and if Morata does not want to be remembered simply as ‘another Torres’, he must pull his shooting boots on in every competition. This, however, was a decent start.