Belfast Telegraph

Crouch brings Rovers back to earth

A first-half brace from Peter Crouch earned Stoke a 2-1 victory at Ewood Park as Blackburn failed to build on their stunning victory over Manchester United.

Rovers began well and Christopher Samba headed against the bar before seeing a goal disallowed but it was Stoke who took the lead in the 17th minute through Crouch.

The big striker grabbed his second on the stroke of half-time by finishing off a Stoke break and, although substitute David Goodwillie pulled one back with 21 minutes to go, it was not enough to prevent a third successive home defeat.

The home fans almost had a goal to cheer inside five minutes as Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen missed Morten Gamst Pedersen's corner and Samba headed against the crossbar.

The ball was cleared for another corner and this time the defender did find the net but referee Lee Mason felt Ayegbeni Yakubu had impeded Sorensen and awarded a free-kick.

Stoke weathered the storm, though, and took the lead in the 17th minute as Dean Whitehead clipped a lovely ball into the area and Crouch, who was helped by a slip from Samba, chested it down and planted a volley into the bottom corner for his 100th goal in league football.

Stoke had been pegged back in their own half for a substantial period of time but they inflicted a potentially killer blow in the 45th minute as Matthew Etherington ran virtually from his own box before crossing for Crouch, who finished the chance in much the same way he had the first.

Blackburn pulled one back in the 69th minute when Pedersen's corner was headed goalwards by Grant Hanley and Goodwillie eventually turned it in just ahead of Yakubu.

A Pedersen long throw fell to Yakubu in the 79th minute virtually on the goal line but Jonathan Woodgate somehow blocked his shot.

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From Belfast Telegraph