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'Crouchy' takes his chance

Peter Crouch was delighted to get the chance to repay our fans with the two goals that helped us beat Stoke on Saturday.

Peter Crouch was delighted to get the chance to repay our fans with the two goals that helped us beat Stoke on Saturday.

The striker admitted to being gutted after his early sending off at the Bernabeu last Tuesday left us down to 10 men on our way to a 4-0 Champions League quarter-final first leg defeat at the hands of Real Madrid.

Although ‘Crouchy’ was able to apologise to those around him immediately after that game, he knew that there was only one way to make amends with our supporters.

And he delivered the goods with two first half goals in our 3-2 victory over Tony Pulis’ men – a vital first Premier League win in five games.

The big man revealed: “I’d said to the players and the manager that I was sorry for what happened but on Saturday I got the chance to say sorry to all the fans as well, especially the ones that travelled to Madrid.

“Hopefully I’ve repaid them a little bit with a couple of goals. They were fantastic with me on Saturday and have been fantastic with me since I’ve been here.

“After last Tuesday I was disappointed with myself and given the opportunity to play a game the next day I would have taken it. But I had to wait until the weekend and I’m really pleased with how it went and the result.”

The win puts us to within three points of fourth placed Manchester City, who face Liverpool at Anfield tonight (Monday), as the race for a place in next season’s Champions League heats up.

So ‘Crouchy’ has spelled out the importance of the victory and was encouraged enough by the nature of our performance to suggest we can repeat last season’s feat of finishing in the top four with some massive games remaining between now and the end of the Premier League campaign.

He added: “We were fantastic on Saturday, playing some great stuff, and I thought it was going to be a lot easier than it was in the end, but two great goals from Stoke kept them in it.

“Even if we’d won against Real Madrid, we had to make sure we got a result against Stoke because we want to be playing in the Champions League next year.

“We’ve proved that we can play at that level, but in the league we need to start winning and putting pressure on teams like Man City and making sure we get that kind of football next year.

“We’ve got enough ability, enough belief and there are enough games. We’ve got City again at their place and that could prove to be a pivotal game.

“We’ve dropped a few points while Man City have been in there for quite a lot of the season, then Liverpool aren’t too far away, so we’ve got to stay on our game.”