Crouch finally gets off the mark

Crouch finally gets off the mark

Liverpool head into Wednesday's Champions League date with Chelsea in buoyant mood after Peter Crouch finally opened his goalscoring account for the club in a 3-0 win over Wigan.

Crouch must wait until a Premiership panel makes a decision before learning whether he scored one or two goals in Liverpool's sixth consecutive Premiership win, at Anfield on Saturday.

But there was no doubting the relief of everyone connected with the club that the seven-million-pound summer signing had finally ended a run of 22 games without a goal.

Reds boss Rafael Benitez could scarcely conceal his delight. "Two goals for Crouch ... that's the story finished!" he beamed at the waiting press.

The England center-forward needed the aid of two deflections to score his first after 19 minutes, ending a sequence of 24 hours and 8 minutes since his last goal, for Southampton against Crystal Palace on the final day of last season.

That sequence covered 22 games, for club and country, but Crouch needed to wait only a further 22 minutes before scoring again, confidently lobbing the goalkeeper after collecting Steve Finnan's through ball.

Luis Garcia completed the win by chesting Fernando Morientes's header over the line in the 70th minute.

Afterwards, Crouch insisted he would be claiming the first goal and voiced his relief at finally getting the monkey off his back.

"It took a big slice of luck but that's what I've been missing recently. The shot was on target and I know it went a bit higher than I expected but it's gone in," he said.

"It's been difficult for me. I'm a happy sort of person but it was getting me down a bit, now I can just get on with it," the gangling striker added.

"I've been getting a bit of stick but to get the goal was great and took the pressure off."

Benitez backed Crouch's claim to the first goal, pointing to a directive from a recent FIFA meeting that declared that an on-target shot should be credited to the striker, regardless of deflections.

He added: "I was at a meeting in Geneva with other coaches and the rules were clear that on this kind of goal if the striker went to shoot on target then it is his goal. So, that's two to Crouchie!

"It was clear on the pitch what the goal meant, to see the players with him and the supporters also. I said before that the most important thing is that he continues to play well and the team continues winning.

Arsene irate

Arsene Wenger delivered a damning verdict on Arsenal's performance after watching his side slump to a 2-0 defeat at Bolton that could have killed off any lingering hope it had of catching Chelsea in the Premiership title race.

The Gunners were outclassed and could have lost by more than just two goals had it not been for the reactions of their goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.

The German could do nothing about the first-half strikes from Abdoulaye Faye and Stelios Giannakopoulos, but he made three superb saves to keep the scoreline respectable for his team.

But that did not spare Arsenal from a rare public rebuke from their manager, who criticized his players for lacking commitment after a limp performance.

"We had a bad game," he said. "The commitment of the Bolton players was superior to ours and we were not strong enough in the challenges.

"It's worrying because we were getting beaten in areas of the game where we could not afford to lose the battle. We were very tentative and frayed. It's not very reassuring."

Wenger's team now trails Chelsea by a daunting 14 points, but the Frenchman refused to concede that his interest in this seasons title race had been ended after this fourth away defeat of the campaign.

Updated : 2021-04-17 10:02 GMT+08:00