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The often-criticised Spaniard struck twice in the first half, his second from the penalty spot, and he almost completed a hat-trick shortly after halftime when his ferocious shot rebounded off the woodwork for compatriot Juan Mata to tap home.
Bottom club Queens Park Rangers set an unwanted Premier League record when a 2-2 draw at Wigan Athletic meant they have failed to win any of their first 16 matches.
Two Mikel Arteta penalties helped Arsenal to a 2-0 home win over West Bromwich Albion, a first victory in four league games moving the Gunners up to sixth.
Norwich City are unbeaten in 10 matches in all competitions after a 4-3 victory at Swansea City although Michu's double for the Swans after the break nearly helped the home side make an unlikely escape having trailed 3-0 at halftime.
Southampton climbed out of the relegation zone above Sunderland with a 1-0 defeat of second-bottom Reading while Aston Villa and Stoke City produced a dull 0-0 draw.
Leaders Manchester United face champions Manchester City on Sunday protecting a three-point advantage over their neighbours.
Torres had gone two months without scoring a Premier League goal but after scoring twice in his side's 6-1 thrashing of Nordsjaelland in the Champions League in midweek El Nino appears to be re-discovering some confidence in front of goal.
"Torres was always around but we needed to create more chances for him and he will score goals," Benitez, who can land some early silverware when he takes his side to the World Club Cup in Japan next week, told Sky Sports.
He struck in the 11th minute with a classy finish from Eden Hazard's cross and doubled the lead on the stroke of halftime when he sent Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet the wrong way from the penalty spot.
Surprisingly it was the first penalty Torres had taken in English football.
Mata was on hand to make it 3-0 in the 49th minute when he converted a rebound after Torres let fly with his left foot and the ball cannoned against the crossbar.
Sunderland, who are heading for a relegation battle, responded with Adam Johnson's sweetly struck shot but Chelsea stood firm in the face of some belated home pressure to move to 29 points, seven behind leaders Manchester United.
QPR drew for a third match in a row since Harry Redknapp replaced Mark Hughes as manager and remain rooted to the bottom of the table having surpassed the 15-match winless streak from the start of a Premier League season recorded by Swindon Town.
Djibril Cisse had given the London side hope of a win when he shot them ahead after 70 minutes but James McCarthy deprived them of an unwanted place in the record books.
Arsenal were good value for their win against West Brom but the main talking point was an apparent dive by Santi Cazorla in the 26th minute which allowed Arteta to score from the spot.
There was no question about the legitimacy of Arsenal's second penalty in the 64th minute when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was taken out in the area by Chris Brunt.
Swansea may have lost at home to Norwich in a thrilling encounter in south Wales but Michu's stock is soaring after he underlined his position as the Premier League's top scorer with 12 since his move from Rayo Vallecano.
Goals from Steven Whittaker, Sebastien Bassong and Grant Holt had given Norwich a 3-0 lead at halftime.