Crouch stands tall in Stoke vic­tory

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - SOCCER -

Stoke City 2 Southamp­ton 1

STOKE sub­sti­tute Peter Crouch spared Saido Ber­ahino’s blushes as he came off the bench to reg­is­ter the win­ner against old club Southamp­ton. Hav­ing led through Mame Diouf’s header, Ber­ahino then had a penalty to end a goal­less streak that dates back to Fe­bru­ary 2016, but he missed his fourth suc­ces­sive spot-kick dur­ing that drought as Fraser Forster kept it out.

It looked like it would prove costly when Maya Yoshida fired in a 75 th-minute equaliser, yet Crouch, who came on for Ber­ahino, poked in the win­ner from close range to make it 2-1 and earn the Pot­ters their first win in six.

Ber­ahino had been praised by his man­ager Mark Hughes on Fri­day and he was handed a re­call for a Stoke side miss­ing Jese Ro­driguez through com­pas­sion­ate leave.

There was also a first start of the season for Southamp­ton’s Vir­gil van Dijk after the Liver­pool tar­get was de­nied a sum­mer move away.

The Dutch­man last started in Jan­uary, with a foot in­jury end­ing his cam­paign early last season, and it was ev­i­dent early on just why he was so sought after as he made three key blocks.

His cen­tral-de­fen­sive part­ner Yoshida was sidestepped eas­ily by Xher­dan Shaqiri when the Swiss fired at Forster, with Diouf dither­ing over the re­bound and al­low­ing Mario Lem­ina to stop his shot.

In the bat­tle of the back-up Eng­land goal­keep­ers, Jack But­land pro­duced his own fine save to deny Shane Long from close range when he was played in by Oriol Romeu, though Forster was still be­ing kept busier as he de­nied Maxim Choupo-Mot­ing.

However, Forster was help­less when Stoke went ahead five min­utes be­fore the in­ter­val through Diouf, who nod­ded in un­marked from Shaqiri’s near-post cor­ner.

The Pot­ters looked set to dou­ble that ad­van­tage three min­utes later when the otherwise fault­less Van Dijk clipped Ber­ahino as he came across him in the box.

De­spite his re­cent woe­ful record from the spot, the 24-year-old stepped up him­self only for Forster to guess cor­rectly, div­ing left to keep out a penalty that was not struck into the cor­ner.

Yoshida dis­patched a scis­sor-kick vol­ley in off the cross­bar with 15 min­utes re­main­ing be­fore Crouch popped up with the late win­ner.

Stoke City striker Peter Crouch cel­e­brates his win­ning goal against Southamp­ton with team-mate Xher­dan Shaqiri

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