Crouch: I can't believe
far I have come
By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo
Peter Crouch admitted he is still coming to terms
with his meteoric rise after claiming two goals as
Liverpool secured their place in the Club World
Two excellent strikes from the striker either side of a
stunning Steven Gerrard volley completed a convincing
win over Deportivo Saprissa for the European Champions,
who now go on to face Brazilians Sao Paolo on Sunday.
And after a year that has led from relegation heartache
to the brink of his first major honour, Crouch said: "It
is competitions like these and the chance to win medals
that was one of the things that convinced me to come to
"Just coming to a country like Japan and playing in the
stadium that hosted the World Cup Final a few years ago
is a new experience for me.
More celebration for Crouch. (Photo: Reuters)
"When I look back to what I was doing a year ago, this
is a world of difference. We were fighting for our lives
at the bottom of the table with Southampton back then.
This is a totally different prospect.
"We are at the top. There are pressures attached to
both, but I know which is more enjoyable. We are going
great guns and a year ago I was scrapping for any kind
"I have been settled at Liverpool for a while now and
I've been doing the job expected of me, but just not
scoring. I'm pleased with the two goals and the
performance against Deportivo. The early goal settled
us, and we never looked in danger of losing after that.
"It was a wait for me to get off the mark, but I'd like
to think I contribute in other ways. But I still needed
to be scoring goals as well, playing for a club like
"There was a time when I was not scoring, so getting
that first goal settled me down, and I am going in to
games more confident. I always felt I was doing the job,
but hopefully I will contribute goals. That's what a
striker is judged upon.
"I have a lot to thank the lads for. They have been
top-class with me. I have settled in so quickly it's
frightening. I want to do well for them. They have seen
how I have been playing and what I have been doing for
While Rafa Benitez took comfort from another impressive
display from his striker, his defenders succeeded in
re-writing the Anfield records. Pepe Reina's 11th
consecutive clean sheet set a new milestone.
The number of tackles and interceptions made in the
final minutes of yesterday's clash underlined how much
it meant to the players.
"There was no way we wanted to give up the chance of the
record," admitted Crouch. "Just speak to Jamie
Carragher. He doesn't want to give up that record
because the lads have done superbly at the back."
Benitez proud to
Steve Hunter in Japan - LFC Official Website
Rafael Benitez has spoken of his pride for his team
after seeing Liverpool keep a club record breaking 11
clean sheets in their 3-0 win over Deportivo Saprissa in
the Club World Championship.
Benitez's modern day heroes beat the record previously
held by Kenny Dalglish's 1987-88 team and the manager
feels it is one the players thoroughly deserve.
Benitez said: "I think it is a very good achievement.
Pepe Reina made some important saves and all the team
worked hard for each other. The players deserve to go
into the history books of a club like Liverpool I am
proud of my team."
On the match itself Benitez feels his team will need to
improve and step up a gear when they face Brazilian side
Sao Paolo in Sunday's final.
"I am pleased with this result but we know we will need
to play much better in the final on Sunday," retorted
Benitez. "We made some changes in the second half and
used the squad. Sao Paolo are a good team and we will
need to be at our best on Sunday.
"I am pleased for Peter Crouch to score another two
goals and I will always talk positive about him. He
creates chances for others as well as scores goals and
he is a player who gives a lot to us that maybe other
ready for Sao Paulo
BBC Sport Online
Peter Crouch says Liverpool need to mirror their
performance in the Club World Championship semi-final
win over Deportivo Saprissa in Sunday's final.
The Reds face Sao Paulo in Yokohama after beating
Saprissa 3-0, a victory in which Crouch contributed two
"Sao Paulo will be technical as well and we've got to
get in and around them and hopefully we can get an early
goal again," the striker told BBC Sport.
"It was a different kind of tempo but I thought we took
to it well."
Crouch scored Liverpool's first, a sublime volley, after
just three minutes and Rafael Benitez's team were all
but assured of victory after Steven Gerrard put them two
up before the break.
"I always thought the goals would come - it was just a
matter of time," he added.
"They were good technical players, but once we got the
early goal we always looked comfortable."
BIG in Japan
By Chris Bascombe in Yokohama - Liverpool Echo
Steven Gerrard gave Japan a glimpse of what they
missed in the 2002 World Cup as Liverpool's bid for
glory in the Far East got off to the perfect start with
a 3-0 win over Deportivo Saprissa.
The skipper scored a spectacular volley as the Reds
dominated Costan Rican opponents to secure their place
in Sunday's World Club Championship final.
Peter Crouch was also on the mark with a superb double.
He gave Benitez's side a third minute lead which set the
tone for a convincing victory in Yokohama.
But it was Gerrard's thunderous strike just before
half-time which underlined the gulf in class between the
Gerrard was forced to sit at home injured when England
succumbed in the Far East three years ago, but the
Anfield talisman made amends in club colours to help his
side secure a final place against Brazilians Sao Paolo.
By keeping an 11th consecutive clean sheet, Pepe Reina
also set a new club record for Liverpool.
As if any more proof were needed of how seriously Rafa
Benitez was taking this competition, his team selection
included the spine of his strongest team.
Fringe players Josemi and Djimi Traore were surprise
choices, but the rest of the starting XI had a
Carragher, Hyypia, Gerrard, Alonso, Sissoko and Crouch
were all in the line-up, with the skipper once more
being asked to play on the right of midfield. John Arne
Riise was preferred to Luis Garcia on the left.
Although the 70,000 seater stadium in Yokohama was
littered with empty seats, the majority of those fans
who braved the freezing temperatures were supporting
But there was still an almost surreal atmosphere as the
teams warmed up in silence in front of a sparce crowd,
which will no doubt make cynics question the venue for
Liverpool couldn't have wished for a better start when
Crouch volleyed a superb opener after three minutes.
Crouch and Cisse combined to stunning effect when the
French perfectly laid off a Riise cross into his strike
The £7m striker displayed all his technical prowess to
drill low beyond a helpless Jose Porras.
The duo combined again five minutes later when Crouch
returned the compliment to Cisse. But the Frenchman was
unable to control his volley and it flew high and wide.
Set-pieces were the Latin Americans only focal point for
attack, and twice centre-half Randall Azofeifa gave the
Reds defence a warning, heading and shooting from the
edge of the box when given too much fredom.
But all the defensive headaches were at the other end,
where Crouch and Ciise were showing signs of a fruitful
Benitez's main concern would have been his side only
having one goal to show for their early supremacy, and
his team should should have paid the price on 28 minutes
when Saprissa wasted a golden chance to equalise.
Alvaro Saborio was sent clean through on goal and it
seemed Pepe Reina's proud clean-sheet record was about
to end. Somehow, Saborio missed the target with the goal
at his mercy.
The punishment meted out by Liverpool was instant and
deadly when Gerrard struck a spectacular second on 32
Liverpool had already pieced together some majestic
moves, but none better than that which led to them
doubling their advantage.
Crouch's flick found Riise rampaging down the left flank
and his floated delivery was inch perfect into the
There was still plenty for Gerrard to do from 20 yards,
but he let fly with a right footed volley which brought
the Yokohama Stadium to its feet.
The confidence was flowing throughout Benitez's side,
with Alonso and Gerrard providing an exhibition of their
passing skills and the pace of Riise and Cisse seemingly
too much for the Costa Ricans to handle.
If anything, Liverpool's football was in danger of
becoming over elaborate as they cut through the
opposition at will.
Benitez main topic of conversation at the interval must
have been to warn his players of complacency.
Such was their superiority, only a major drop in
standards would cost them a place in the final as
Deportivo struggled to impress.
There was little evidence of the Reds dropping gears
when Cisse was inches wide from adding a third two
minutes into the second half.
Gerrard, inevitably, was involved again. Crossing from
the right for Cisse to glance aheader just beyond
The Costa Ricans had now taken to illegal means to stop
Gerrard and Cisse, gifting a series of free-kicks after
Liverpool should have been celebrating again a minute
later when Cisse was sent clear by Gerrard.
With Crouch and Riise awaiting a simple cross for a
tap-in, the enigmatic striker hit the only space where
no red shirt was loitering.
To be fair to Cisse, it was a rare blemish in an
otherwise encouraging display from the £14m striker.
Saprissa were struggling to maintain a respectable
score-line in the face of intense Liverpol pressure.
Gerrard was pulling all the strings, and another probing
ball to Riise led to an inevitable third, with Crouch
grabbing his second of the game.
Every pass from the skipper was finding its target, and
when Crouch was sent clean through following Riise's
clever flick, he had another opportunity to show off his
A neat touch beyond Porras marked the fourth of Crouch's
fledgling Anfield career.
Those days when Crouch's goalscoring ability was
questioned must have seemed a long time ago for a player
growing in self-belief.
By now, the gulf in class was reflected in the score,
allowing Benitez to consider some substitutions.
The manager's mind was clearly already on Sunday's final
as Florent SinamaPongolle replaced Gerrard on 64
The skipper had been in top form and earned a standing
ovation from the crowd as he left the pitch.
Sinama almost made an instant impact when he was sent
clear by Cisse's back flick, only to delay his shot too
With a meeting with Sao Paolo guaranteed, the sub-plot
of Reina's clean sheet record now caught the attention.
By reaching the 70 minute mark without conceding,
Liverpool had already eclipsed the defensive record of
the 1987-88 season. But against such mediocre
opposition, the back four would have been distraught to
lose their chance of an 11th consecutive cleansheet.
Benitez showed he had no thoughts about the statistics,
however, when he replaced Hyypia with Luis Garcia, 18
minutes from time.
Traore moved to centre-half for the closing stages.
In truth, a Liverpool fourth looked more likely than a
Saprissa consolation, although there were some anxious
moments as full-time approach and the record was clearly
preying on the Reds' mind.