Torres at the double for Chelsea
Chelsea were playing on German turf for the first time since winning the 2012 European Cup in Munich and, as then, for large parts of the game had to absorb the pressure applied by their German opponents.
On his 100th Chelsea start Torres netted his 38th and 39th goals for the Blues - hitting the bar in between - to take his tally for the season to four.
Eden Hazard scored a breakaway third three minutes from time as Jose Mourinho's men joined Schalke on six points, moving ahead of their rivals on head-to-head record ahead of the November 6 clash at Stamford Bridge.
Torres put Chelsea in front with a fifth-minute header, but the visitors were firmly on the back foot during the rest of the first half.
Only some marginal offside calls and a spectacular save from Petr Cech to deny Roman Neustadter saw the visitors take an interval advantage.
Chelsea were living dangerously as Schalke pressed forward, but six minutes into the second half Torres hit the frame of the goal with a header from Frank Lampard's free-kick as the visitors went close to doubling their advantage.
Determination made the second goal. First Hazard won the ball midway inside Chelsea's half, then Oscar shrugged off Jermaine Jones' attempts to dispossess him.
The Brazil playmaker reached the edge of the Schalke area and centred for Torres to score.
It was Torres' third goal of the season against German opponents - the other coming at Swindon in the Capital One Cup - after his European Super Cup strike against Bayern Munich.
After beginning the campaign with a surprise loss to Basle, Chelsea now lead the pool following wins away to Steaua Bucharest and Schalke ahead of the return match with the Germans at Stamford Bridge.
Related Chelsea News