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Crouchy's Xmas present

Posted on 19 December 2009  - 12:00

A goal in each half from Peter Crouch secured a 2-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers and a fourth away win of the season.

Crouchy's Xmas present

A goal in each half from Peter Crouch secured a 2-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers and a fourth away win of the season.

There was something of the smash and grab about the win, but the moments of quality came from the team in yellow, although they had to withstand several periods of sustained pressure from the home side.

The outcome though is two wins this week with five goals scored and none conceded.

On just four minutes Aaroun Lennon and Peter Crouch combined down the right and the striker stroked over a cross that fell just behind its intended target Tom Huddlestone. With a light sprinking of snow floating down over Ewood Park, the game had a real pre-Christmas feel to it early on - aside from being somewhat cold.

The team was not surprisingly unchanged from the resounding victory over Manchester City, the only change being on the bench where Danny Rose was drafted in for the injured Luka Modric, who missed out with an ankle problem.

Heurelho Gomes needed to be alert and brave in the next passage of significant action, flinging out his body and a strong thump to the ball despite the on-rushing attention of Michel Salgado.

A deflected Benni McCarthy free-kick bounced off the top of our crossbar moments later and a period of Rovers pressure followed, a period which caused more concern to messrs Dawson and Bassong than Gomes.

Niko Kranjcar attempted to inject some quality into proceedings with a neat pass that dissected the Rovers rearguard on 22 minutes. Jermain Defoe was the recipient, but he did not quite get hold of his shot and scuffed it wide of Paul Robinson's goal.

Junior Hoilett did then work Gomes down to his right, with the Brazilian saving comfortably. He went on to produce a far more tricky block a few minutes later after McCarthy floated in a superb ball to the chest of Franco Di Santo, who shot on the spin forcing Gomes to move smartly down to his left.

With 46 minutes on the clock a Huddlestone shot spun off towards the corner flag where Kranjcar was ready to return with interest. And that he did. The Croatian's measured cross was met by the head of Crouch, who nodded past Robinson and into the net off the underside of the bar.

It was the end of a feisty 90-odd seconds of stoppage time, before which the game had drifted into a bit of a lull.

Defoe could have doubled the advantage in the opening minutes of the second half but got the ball caught up in his feet after good work down the right by Lennon.

It then looked like Rovers would be on level terms. McCarthy found himself unmarked well inside the area and shot off Gomes' leg onto the inside of the post. The ball ran across the line and it took a lunging clearance from Sebastien Bassong to avert the danger.

Rovers were on a roll, Gomes was forced into a near post save and a smother from distance in the following manic minutes - ones which persuaded Harry Redknapp that the energy poise of Jermaine Jenas was required. He replaced Wilson Palacios.

There was then an aerial pounding from the home side, with long high balls coming from all directions and the team needed a establish a foothold in the game again as the strikers were not holding up the ball and giving the team time to re-group.

Robbie Keane took the place of Defoe in order to try and provide some craft between midfield and attack. The changes appeared to be having the desired effect as a passing game was re-established and some of the sting was drawn from the Rovers revival.

Jenas offered both bite and guile in equal measure, while the introduction of Keane drew more people into play. Lennon flighted in an inviting cross that Crouch powered past Robinson with 11 minutes left on the clock, but any celebrations were curtailed by the flag of the assistant.

With eight minutes to go came a magnificent move that sealed a second goal. Vedran Corluka lofted forward, Keane flicked on and the speedy Jenas did brilliantly on the stretch to steer into the path of Crouch around the edge of the area. Crouch advanced a few steps and made no mistake in crashing past Robinson.

Gomes was then forced to make a brilliant save to prevent McCarthy reducing the deficit, while Kranjcar fizzed one just over in stoppage time.

All in all, a fantastic three points - Merry Christmas!