Crouch stands tall in Stoke victory
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