By MARK IRWIN
ASHLEY COLE last night hailed Fernando Torres as ‘the main man’ after Chelsea’s £50million striker fired them to the top of the table.
Eden Hazard got his first Blues goal from the penalty spot when Torres tumbled in the area.
Then the revitalised Spanish striker added the second in first-half stoppage time from a superb right-foot strike.
The Londoners’ Stamford Bridge triumph over Newcastle was the Champions League kings’ third successive victory this season and sent a little reminder to the rest of the Premier League that they mean business again.
Cole was quick to praise Torres, who has been rejuvenated following Didier Drogba’s departure for China.
The England defender declared: “Now he is the main main.
“He is full of confidence after winning the European Championship with Spain and he has scored a great goal here.
“We have lost Didier Drogba, who was a big, powerful presence up front. Sometimes we just used to knock it up to him. But now we’ve got to get the ball down and play a little bit more.”
It was Torres’ third goal of the campaign, while Hazard bagged his first.
Cole added: “Eden deserves a lot of credit for the start we’ve had. He has won two penalties, had two assists and now has a goal. It’s phenomenal.
“We’re proud to have this guy in the team and, hopefully, he can keep doing it.
“When I played for England against Belgium, I had to mark him. I told the guys then he’d rip up the Premier League.”
Blues boss Roberto Di Matteo was equally delighted to see Torres looking so dangerous once again.
The Italian said: “He’s a great team player but it’s good to see him scoring.
“I thought his goal here was terrific. The build-up and the goal were nice.
“I was very pleased with our performance. It was our third game in six days, so the demand was very high. The whole team was excellent.
“I thought we controlled their threats very well, because they can hurt you. We’ve kept two clean sheets in the last three games, so I’m happy.”
Toon manager Alan Pardew was disappointed with the penalty but was left even more frustrated by his side simply failing to fire.
He moaned: “I thought we were lacklustre in the first half. We lacked a bit of a spark.
“Chelsea were good in the first half, so I don’t want to take anything away from them.
“But the goals were bad for us. The first goal was bad. Vurnon Anita has stuck a leg out, tried to withdraw it and Torres had made a big meal of that. But it was the goal just before half-time which was the killer blow. It was a great goal.
“We really had a go in the second half and didn’t shut up shop, which was pleasing. It bodes well.
“We’d two big chances. If one had gone in, you never know what would have happened.
“I’m fairly positive about my team but I think Hazard has given them a little bit extra.
“Chelsea played well and were sound defensively. They were well organised.
“I thought Torres was good. That was one of the better performances from him I’ve seen. His goal was classic.”