Crouch shows there is no sub­sti­tute for goals

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Sport | Football - By Jon Cul­ley

How Saido Ber­ahino must crave a lit­tle of Peter Crouch’s goalscor­ing knack. The 24-year-old Stoke striker does not have a se­nior goal to his name since Fe­bru­ary 2016, and even the gift of a penalty kick could not end his night­mare run.

Crouch, on the other hand, keeps tick­ing along, even in his 37th year.

As Ber­ahino was sub­sti­tuted with 20 min­utes left, curs­ing his luck after Fraser Forster’s save from the spot­kick had left him frus­trated again, Crouch re­placed him and grabbed an 85th-minute win­ner.

Starts for Crouch have been rare lately but he al­ready has three goals this season, two of them after com­ing on as a sub­sti­tute.

It was his goal that saved Stoke a point at Ber­ahino’s former club, West Bromwich Al­bion, in Au­gust. “We all feel for Saido, of course,” Mark Hughes, the Stoke man­ager, said.

“Ev­ery­one is will­ing him to score and you have to give him credit for hav­ing the per­son­al­ity to grab the ball and take the kick.

“He is work­ing hard and is just look­ing for a break.

“I’m sure when he gets a goal, he will be up and run­ning. Peter – even at 36 his at­tributes have not waned. I frus­trate him at times be­cause he wants to start, but when he comes on late in a game he will al­ways give the op­po­si­tion de­fence a prob­lem.”

Crouch’s goal came after Southamp­ton had played them­selves back into the game after a first half in which they had the bulk of posses­sion, but could not match the goal threat of Stoke, who went ahead when Mame Bi­ram Diouf headed home from a cor­ner after 40 min­utes.

Ber­ahino’s miss came only a cou­ple of min­utes later after Vir­gil van Dijk – start­ing for Southamp­ton for the first time in nine months after his stand-off with the club over his failed move to Liver­pool – pulled at Ber­ahino just enough to bring him down.

The miss looked like it could be ex­pen­sive when Maya Yoshida volleyed home in some style after Shane Long had flicked on sub­sti­tute Sofi­ane Bo­ufal’s cross with 15 min­utes left.

But in­side the last five min­utes, Maxim ChoupoMot­ing had a close-range shot blocked by Forster but managed a sec­ond at­tempt while ly­ing on the floor and Crouch turned the ball into the net.

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