LONDON, Oct 23 (Reuters) - The much-maligned Fernando Torres woke up on Wednesday to find himself the subject of glowing headlines after his two goals helped Chelsea to take the lead in Champions League Group E.
The praise was qualified though, with the British media not quite able to shake off the idea that the Spaniard has failed to justify his 50-million-pound ($75-million) fee since joining from Liverpool nearly three years ago.
Torres, who started for the first time since damaging knee ligaments in Bucharest three weeks ago, said himself after Tuesday's 3-0 win over Schalke 04 that he felt "very sharp, very well".
Britain's Daily Mirror coined the headline "Torrnado" while the Daily Mail said the Spain striker was in "irresistible form".
"Torres put in a brilliant shift up front, leading the line," the Mail continued. "His touch was good, his movement sharp and he combined smoothly with those around him."
On his 100th start for the London side, Torres "looked the man for whom Roman Abramovic paid 50 million pounds... rather than the pale version of one of Europe's most lethal strikers that he has so often been," said the Daily Telegraph.
Torres, who said in June that he found motivation in the words of returning coach Jose Mourinho, could have had a hat-trick if his second-half header had not hit the bar.
Mourinho started Torres instead of Cameroon international Samuel Eto'o and said after the game that the Spaniard had repaid his faith.
Whether the mutual admiration would continue was another matter, however, the media suggested.
"It will take a lot more for (Torres) to shake his reputation as money wasted," said The Times, adding that previous predictions that the 29-year-old player was back at his best had proved "a mirage".
"It is difficult, now, to believe he will ever be what he once was, what he was supposed to be. But still, you wonder."
There were more immediate concerns for Torres back in the Premier League, where second-placed Chelsea host Manchester City on Sunday, the Telegraph pointed out, saying: "It will be interesting to see if Torres retains his place." (Writing by Clare Fallon; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)