Crouch shock at boo boys
By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo
Peter Crouch today admitted he's been stunned by the
negative reaction since his transfer to Anfield, but
thanked the Liverpool fans for not jumping on the
The £7m striker has been the target for continued abuse
outside Merseyside, but proved his value with a pivotal
contribution to the Reds' weekend win at Aston Villa.
Crouch traces the criticism back to the recent England
international against Austria.
But the forward says it's the support he's received from
The Kop which has kept his confidence and spirit intact.
"Everyone seems to be willing me to get that first goal
and the fans here have been so great with me since I
joined. I'm taking confidence from that," said Crouch.
"I'm desperate to score and I'm certain it's going to
come soon. I'm sure of it, so long as I keep working
hard and getting in the right positions.
"I've not been unduly affected by the criticism because
of our fans' support. It has taken me aback just how
negative other people have been. I suppose that's what
happens if you don't get on the scoresheet and I'm
learning that when you join a high profile club you
become an instant target.
"Things are scrutinised a lot more here, but as long as
I'm doing a job which the manager, my team-mates and the
fans are happy with, I won't let it get me down.
"Maybe the criticism built up after the England game,
but I'm not really interested what anyone outside
Liverpool thinks now. Nobody here has a problem with me,
so everyone else can say what they like."
Crouch turned the game Liverpool's way as a late sub in
the Midlands, although he was cursing the opportunities
which went begging.
"I was gutted I couldn't get that first goal on Saturday
because I had the chances," he said.
"I was delighted Xabi finished off the second, but I
must admit I wanted it to be me celebrating a goal. I'm
glad I played a part in the win, but obviously I'd have
loved to have scored when I had the chance.
"I thought I had it just before the second, but it was a
great block by Mellberg. I'm not sure how he got there,
but it just seems to be the way it's going for me at the
The game's controversial moment was the foul by Liam
Ridgewell on Crouch, which allowed Steven Gerrard to
convert the crucial penalty.
"When you come on you need to make an impact and I felt
I did that," added Crouch.
"It took a big decision from the referee to swing the
game our way, but I thought it was deserved.
"For me, it was the kind of decision which can go either
way. I thought he had his hands on me as I was going for
the header. I don't go down without contact and I was
pulled to the ground by him, so it was a penalty as far
as I was concerned."
Rafa has no
grouch with Crouch
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez praised the
contribution of goal-shy striker Peter Crouch after he
won a controversial penalty in his side's 2-0 win at
Crouch was adjudged by referee Steve Bennett to have
been fouled by his former Villa team-mate Liam Ridgewell
five minutes from time and Steven Gerrard made no
mistake with the spot-kick.
A 20-yard drive from Xabi Alonso wrapped up Liverpool's
first away league win of the campaign and left Villa in
relegation trouble with just one win in their last 13
Before the penalty incident Crouch had missed a
gilt-edged opportunity and he has still to find the net
in 14 appearances since his £7million summer move from
But Benitez remains positive about the England player,
who caused Villa problems in the air after his
introduction as a second-half substitute.
Benitez said: "People keep asking me about Peter's
failure to score but I say many times that if he plays
well and we win, it is enough.
"He has done a very good job for us and definitely gives
us more options and alternatives in attack.
"Of course, he will be more confident if he scores but
if he plays as well as he did against Villa then I will
"When he came on he created problems for the Villa
centre-backs and, along with the other substitutes Bolo
Zenden and Harry Kewell, gave us the energy that we
Benitez insisted referee Bennett had been correct in his
assessment of the penalty incident as Liverpool won away
from home in a match immediately after a European tie
for the first time in two years.
Benitez said: "As manager of Liverpool you have to say
it is a penalty but I have seen it on television again
and I think it was penalty.
"As for winning away from home, we wanted to change the
"We have won away after a Champions League game, kept a
clean sheet, scored two goals, played well, controlled
the game and created opportunities. As a manager, you
must be delighted."
O'Leary blasts the ref
Villa manager David O'Leary was incensed by the
penalty award and initially claimed on television: "The
referee couldn't wait to give certain decisions in
favour of Liverpool's big players."
O'Leary was not as scathing when pushed on his remarks
in the press conference with the written media but he
was still far from happy with Bennett.
He said: "I am not happy with the penalty. It was a bad
decision. End of story.
"You are going to have 100 penalties every game if you
award them for those type of challenges.
"There is no doubt the penalty changed the game. Up
until then I thought it was a better performance
defensively from us.
"We have had problems in that area all season but we
played with a higher line defensively and were better
because of that."
However, O'Leary knows his side have to improve their
current sequence of results and he called on his players
to reproduce the kind of run they put together when in a
similar position two years ago.
On that occasion Villa slipped into the bottom three at
the start of December before a 3-2 win over Wolves
sparked a revival which saw them only miss out to
Newcastle on goal difference for a European spot.
O'Leary said: "You have got to be concerned but two
years ago we stayed together, kept our belief and
"Eighty per cent of our squad is still the same and we
need that same sort of belief to be shown by the players
thrilled with victory at Villa
By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website
Jamie Carragher is hoping this afternoon's deserved
victory at Aston Villa will be the start of an improved
run of results on the road for the Reds.
Late goals from Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso secured
the three points for Liverpool, who climbed four places
up the table on the back of the hard fought victory in
"We know it's important to start doing better away,"
said Carragher, who was named man of the match.
"We've been a bit frustrated away from home this season.
Today we scored two goals and didn't concede so that's
an improvement. In other games this season we either
haven't scored or, when we have, we've only come away
with a point.
"This win should give us a lot of confidence now. The
main thing was to get the three points and I think we
Captain Steven Gerrard was also delighted with the
victory as Liverpool broke their miserable record of not
winning in the league immediately after a European game.
"When I was stepping up to take the penalty I was just
thinking about the three points," said Gerrard.
"We've improved on the road this season without getting
the results, but this is a step in the right direction
for us. It's nice to get the three points."
gave Reds the victory
BBC Sport Online
Late goals from Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso gave
Rafael Benitez's side their first back-to-back
Premiership victories of the season.
Gerrard calmly slotted home a penalty on 85 minutes
after substitute Peter Crouch was fouled by Liam
Four minutes later, Xabi Alonso cracked in a shot that
Villa keeper Thomas Sorensen probably should have kept
Prior to his fumble, Sorensen had kept Liverpool at bay,
making notable saves from Djibril Cisse and Gerrard.
Prior to those late goals the game had looked to be
heading for a draw, because of a combination of
Sorensen's goalkeeping and Liverpool's indifferent
Just before winning the penalty Crouch missed the game's
best chance with a poorly-placed header, while Cisse and
Fernando Morientes had subdued matches.
Villa were just as indifferent in attack and Milan Baros
had a quiet game against his old club.
Baros was superbly tackled by Jamie Carragher in the
first half, while he was robbed of the ball by Alonso on
67 minutes when in a good position.
Liverpool have struggled badly for goals this season in
the Premiership and in the first-half there was plenty
of evidence of their misfiring attack.
Despite starting in the centre, Cisse was quickly
instructed to play on the right wing, a position he
looked clearly uncomfortable in.
Morientes looked just as out of sorts and he managed
just one shot in the entire game, an effort comfortably
saved by Sorensen.
Midway through the second half the Spaniard was replaced
by former Villa striker Crouch.
The England striker quickly made his presence felt,
picking out Gerrard, whose rasping shot was saved by
Liverpool fans will be wondering quite why it took them
85 minutes to find a way past Sorensen.
Early on, after an elaborate Liverpool move the ball
arrived at Luis Garcia's feet, the Spaniard turned
quickly and sent in a shot that went narrowly wide.
Cisse was the next to probe Villa's defence, slipping
the ball to Gerrard, whose cross was blocked by
Having weathered that early storm Villa came back into
Baros was stopped in his tracks by a well-timed
Carragher tackle, while Kevin Phillips flashed a header
past the post.
The best chance of the first half fell to Cisse when
Gerrard's raking pass released the Frenchman.
Cisse quickly controlled the ball but his shot was well
saved by Sorensen.
The Frenchman made amends for his miss when he robbed
Gareth Barry of possession only for his cross to elude
Morientes and Garcia.
Finally, with five minutes to go, Crouch and Ridgewell
tangled in the box and to the Villa defender's
disbelief, referee Steve Bennett awarded the penalty.
Four minutes later the ball broke to Alonso on the edge
of the box and the Spanish midfielder's swerving shot
found its way past Sorensen.