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Ancelotti backs misfiring Torres

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has defended Fernando Torres after the £50 million deadline day signing again seemed to struggle against Fulham on Monday night.

• Blog: Season to forget, future exciting

Torres was substituted in the 71st minute of the 0-0 draw to cheers from the Fulham fans after a performance which seemed to lack any zip and included several poor touches when in important areas.

While many have again questioned his form in what was only his second Chelsea start, Ancelotti is refusing to accept criticism of the former Liverpool player.

Ancelotti said: "Fernando played well. He had some opportunities in the first half and I took him out just to use Didier [Drogba] fresh and with power. That's the only reason I changed him.

"His performance was better than that against Liverpool. Every striker wants to score. I don't think he's frustrated because he needs time to play with us and, after one week, he was really better tonight after that first performance.''

Explaining his decision to axe Drogba, Ancelotti said: "I don't know if Didier was happy, but every player knows every game is important. It doesn't matter. We wanted to rotate to maintain his condition and to give everyone great motivation.

"Maybe in the next game we will use both. We wanted to have more control of the pitch in this game."

Ancelotti was frustrated not to come away with three points after dominating the game - but needed a 94th minute penalty save by Petr Cech from Clint Dempsey to avoid defeat. Chelsea have now not scored a goal in their last two Premier League matches.

He said: "I think that we deserved to win this game. We could lose it, but Petr Cech saved a penalty with a fantastic save. It was a good performance, especially in the second half. We put them under a lot of pressure, did not concede opportunities for them to come forward, and we created opportunities.

"The most important thing is to finish in the top four. I think we will be able to do this if we play like we did. I'm an optimist and there's good reason to have confidence. The football we showed tonight was good, and we have to continue it.

Fulham boss Mark Hughes claimed Dempsey's penalty should have been retaken, suggesting referee Mike Dean knew as much.

"Drogba was encroaching in the box,'' he said. "Mike Dean saw it: he was alongside Clint as he kicked it. Mike Dean saw that, so it should have been retaken.

"Given the circumstances at the end, it's a disappointment. We came up against a strong Chelsea side who posed questions of us in the second half, and we had to be strong and resilient. But it was a real opportunity to beat a very good side at the end.

"We've been playing well of late and showed real character to dig in and create chances at the other end.''

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