Fernando Torres is back (for better or for worse, Atletico Madrid fans), baby.
Torres, who came up through Atletico’s youth academy and made his first-team debut all the way back in May 2001, was signed permanently by AC Milan last week and subsequently loaned back to his boyhood club on a deal that runs through the end of the 2015-16 season.
On Wednesday, Torres made his debut, part deux, for Atletico Madrid in a 2-0 first-leg victory over city rivals Real Madrid in the quarterfinals of the 2014-15 Copa del Rey. The former Liverpool and Chelsea star started the game and played 59 minutes before making way for substitute Koke.
Atletico’s goals came from midfielder Raul Garcia (penalty kick, 58th minute) and defender Jose Gimenez, who scored a powerful header from a corner kick in the 76th minute. Leg two will be played at the Santiago Benabeu Stadium on Thursday, January 15 (2 pm ET).
Wednesday’s game is one most Atleti supporters won’t soon forget — unless the second leg goes all wrong, of course — but the same can’t be said for Torres’s performance on the day. Hauled off just before the hour mark, the Spaniard never really looked like a threat to score. Stats database website WhoScored.com rated Torres performance at 6.38 (out of 10), third-lowest of Atletico’s 11 starters.
Torres registered zero shots, a 55.6-percent (5-of-9) passing success rate, including one key pass, two fouls committed, three fouls suffered and was flagged for being offside three times.
Early struggles are to be expected of any player moving to a “new” team, granted. But considering Torres’s form since leaving Liverpool in 2011, it’s perhaps unrealistic to expect him to suddenly turn things around after wallowing on Chelsea and Milan’s bench for the better part of the last two years.