Jose Mourinho's men were playing on German turf for the first time since winning the 2012 European Cup in Munich and, as then, had to absorb pressure applied by their German opponents for much of the game.
Torres made his 100th Chelsea start and celebrated with his 38th and 39th goals for the club - hitting the bar in between - to take his seasonal tally to four. Eden Hazard scored a breakaway third three minutes from time as Chelsea joined Schalke on six points, moving ahead of their rivals on head-to-head record.
After an opening defeat by Basle and a 4-0 win at Steaua Bucharest, Mourinho believes his side are now in the box seat.
"I told players after the match against Basle that we did garbage and we have to clean it," said the Portuguese. "We did it in the best possible way - two away wins and leading the group. We now have two matches at home. We are in a good position to qualify."
Mourinho was reluctant to single out the performance of Torres, but believes, after Samuel Eto'o scored his first Chelsea goal in the weekend 4-1 win over Cardiff City, that his strikers are starting to fire.
"I prefer to say we have strikers who can work for the team and can also score goals," he said. "Them [Torres and Eto'o] and Demba [Ba] are players with enough quality to play for us and succeed for us."