Crouch joins an exclusive club af­ter net­ting Stoke’s equaliser

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - Sport football -

STOKE boss Tony Pulis hailed Peter Crouch af­ter the club’s record sign­ing opened his Pot­ters ac­count with the equaliser in Satur­day’s 1-1 draw with Manch­ester United at the Bri­tan­nia Sta­dium.

Crouch, re­cruited for £10m from Tot­ten­ham last month on trans­fer dead­line day, headed home Matthew Ether­ing­ton’s cor­ner seven min­utes into the sec­ond half, can­celling out Nani’s 27th-minute strike for the vis­i­tors.

The tall striker be­came only the sixth player to have scored for six dif­fer­ent Premier League clubs and Pulis was de­lighted with Crouch’s all-round per­for­mance.

“I thought he was mag­nif­i­cent and that is why we spent de­cent money on him,” Pulis said.

“The other play­ers will learn off him be­cause he has got tremen­dous tech­nique. At times they (United) just could not han­dle him.”

United strug­gled through­out the con­test to get to grips with Crouch, who might have had a hat-trick.

That he did not was partly down to his own fin­ish­ing – he ad­mit­ted af­ter­wards he felt he “could have got the win­ner, but then you can’t be greedy” – as well as the ef­forts of Red Devils goal­keeper David de Gea, who man­aged to de­flect one close-range at­tempt from the 30-year-old over the bar.

De Gea had ear­lier pulled off su­perb saves to tip Andy Wilkin­son’s drive onto the wood­work and push Jon Wal­ters’s shot wide.

The Spa­niard has en­dured a tough start to the sea­son and looked un­con­vinc­ing at times on Satur­day when high balls came into the box, but he cer­tainly demon­strated his shot-stop­ping skills, some­thing that did not es­cape the at­ten­tion of Pulis.

“In the first half I thought the two saves the goal­keeper made... peo­ple have been ques­tion­ing him, but they were two won­der­ful stops,” Pulis said.

“The one off Wilkin­son must be the save of the sea­son so far.”

United’s stand-in cap­tain Pa­trice Evra feels De Gea’s con­fi­dence is im­prov­ing and that the 20-year-old has a big fu­ture ahead of him.

“Our goal­keeper was su­perb,” Evra said.

“David is do­ing very well. His con­fi­dence is go­ing up. You can see when he makes a great save, all the play­ers are very happy for him.

“We are all be­hind him and sup­port him. He had a dif­fi­cult start, but if you see the game against Chelsea (last week­end), he made some great saves and here he made some great saves.

“I am re­ally con­fi­dent in him. I am look­ing for­ward and he can be one of the best.”

United suf­fered in­jury set­backs in the build-up to the game, with Wayne Rooney – who man­ager Sir Alex Ferguson ex­pects to be side­lined for “more than a week” – not mak­ing the trip to Stafford­shire due to a ham­string prob­lem and Jonny Evans hav­ing to be re­placed at the back by An­to­nio Va­len­cia af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing trou­ble with his an­kle in the warm-up.

When play got un­der way Javier Her­nan­dez was the next man to be struck down, hurt early on af­ter be­ing tack­led by Jonathan Woodgate and sub­se­quently sub­sti­tuted for Michael Owen in the 11th minute.

It was the first time Stoke had taken points off United in the Premier League since their pro­mo­tion to the top-flight in 2008.

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