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Crouch earns point against United


Peter Crouch (centre)

Peter Crouch (centre)

Peter Crouch (centre)

Manchester United's 100% start to the Barclays Premier League season came to an end at the Britannia Stadium thanks to Peter Crouch's first goal for Stoke in a 1-1 draw.

United went into the game without Wayne Rooney - rumoured to have picked up a hamstring injury - and lost Javier Hernandez early on after he was tackled by Jonathan Woodgate, but took the lead in the first half through Nani.

Red Devils goalkeeper David de Gea then pulled off great stops to deny Andy Wilkinson and Jon Walters, but the Spaniard had looked shaky dealing with crosses and it came as little surprise the hosts' 52nd-minute equaliser came from a corner, which Crouch met with his head to open his account for his new club.

The deadlock was broken just before the half-hour mark when Nani linked up with Darren Fletcher, burst into the area and fired past Asmir Begovic.

Within seconds, Stoke nearly equalised as David De Gea did superbly to tip Andy Wilkinson's fierce drive onto the woodwork.

Ponderous play from Begovic almost let in Nani to double the lead but the Portugal international put his effort over the bar. Back came Stoke, and after Rory Delap had cracked a shot wide from distance De Gea produced another fantastic save to turn Jonathan Walters' shot around the post.

Having finished the first half strongly, Stoke picked up where they left off after the restart and seven minutes in, were level. Matthew Etherington swung in a corner and with De Gea stood on his line, Crouch rose to head home.

Dimitar Berbatov sent a shot into Begovic's arms, but it was Stoke who had all the momentum and Crouch looked set to score again when he brought down Jermaine Pennant's chip in front of goal, only for De Gea to get in the way enough for the ball to deflect over.

After Ashley Young's strike had been batted away by Begovic, the former Aston Villa winger came off for Ryan Giggs while Danny Welbeck replaced Berbatov. Giggs delivered a ball into the six-yard box, but Ryan Shawcross was on hand to get there ahead of Michael Owen, who then looped a header over the bar.

Both sides had chances to win it towards the end, with Crouch sending a header and volley wide before Giggs fired a gilt-edged chance over in stoppage time.