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22:10 29th September 2011

Crouch Causes Besiktas More Anguish

PETER CROUCH caused Turkish cup winners Besiktas more anguish as he played a prominent part in Stoke City's triumph at the Britannia Stadium which lifts them to the top of Group E in the Europa League.

The £10 million signing from Tottenham Hotspur stabbed home a swift equaliser after City had fallen behind in the 13th minute and then he was hauled down by Toma Sivok to give them the penalty from which Jon Walters hammered home the winner 13 minutes from time.

Crouch was on hand to apply the finishing touch after the Potters had exposed the vulnerability of Turkish international Rustu Recber to corners and set pieces and that gave him his second goal in four days following his first for the club against Manchester United.

It was an immediate response to a splendidly worked opener from Roberto Hilbert as he latched onto a Quaresma pass to slot his drive past Thomas Sorensen.

But City's battling performance was rewarded in the closing stages when Crouch, who once scored twice in an 8-0 Champions League mauling of Besiktas by Liverpool, was dragged down by Sivok and French referee Antony Gautier had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Walters took the spot kick and blasted his shot past Recber, after which the Potters hung on to take the points which put them top of the group at this stage following Dynamo Kiev's draw with Maccabi Tel-Aviv in Israel on Matchday Two of the Europa League Group Stage.

Pulis was boosted by the availability of a number of key figures who were nursing injuries in the lead-up to City's Europa League tie against Besiktas.

Experienced midfielder Rory Delap and winger Matthew Etherington were both passed fit to take their places in the starting line-up, while two other doubts, Andy Wilkinson and Marc Wilson, had recovered sufficiently to be named among the substitutes.

Besiktas had a couple of big names missing, striker Hugo Almeida and skipper Guti, while German star Fabian Ernst was named among the substitutes.

City began the game brightly and a flowing move down the right ended with Delap sending over a low cross which found Crouch, but the ball didn't run kindly for him as he tried to tee up a shot from just inside the box and Besiktas dealt with the threat.

However, Delap was involved in causing more problems for the Turkish as he delivered his first long throw into the box and Recber flapped at it and seemed fortunate to be awarded a free kick when he was clearly nowhere near claiming the ball.

Recber looked suspect in dealing with another delivery into the box, this time swung over by Whitehead from a corner, but again he got away with it.

The first real danger from Besiktas came when Quaresma made room in the middle of the park to unleash a long range shot which flew over the bar.

Two minutes later, the Turkish cup winners took the lead with a well-worked goal as Quaresma threaded a ball inside Huth onto the advancing Hilbert and he guided his shot beyond the reach of Sorensen and inside the far post.

City's supporters didn't have long to wait to get back on level terms as a corner at the other end exposed the vulnerability of Recber again.

Whitehead's ball to the edge of the six yard box caused all sorts of problems and when it broke to Crouch, he calmly slotted it home from close range.

There was another immediate chance for the Potters when Etherington whipped over a cross to the edge of the box and Jerome's header flashed over the bar.

After some promising moments in which they threatened to go in front, City then found themselves having to soak up pressure as the quality of Fernandes and Quaresma caused them particular problems with their slick passing and movement.

Fernandes tested out Sorensen with a long range drive which took a deflection off Shawcross and then Quaresma flashed a similar effort wide of the far post.

Shotton then produced a penetrating burst down the right in which he skipped past two challenges before laying the ball back to Delap whose crossed was charged down, but it broke for Etherington who tried a shot which was deflected well wide for a corner.

The half ended with Besiktas having more two opportunities as Quaresma fired a volley over the bar and then the former Chelsea winger caused some anxious moments with a free kick whipped into the box that glanced off Huth's head for a corner.

After an uneasy spell in the closing stages of the first half, Pulis wasted no time in making changes to introduce fresh legs immediately after the break.

Pennant was the first to come on in place of Etherington followed in quick succession by Walters and Whelan who replaced Jerome and Palacios.

City had two great opportunities to go in front, firstly when Whitehead struck a fierce drive from 20 yards which Recber moved smartly to his left to save.

Then, shortly before his substitution, Palacios slipped a ball into Walters on the edge of the box and his shot deflected off Recber and hit the woodwork.

A free kick awarded for a foul on Delap gave Pennant his first opportunity to deliver a ball into the middle and Shawcross rose above his marker in the middle, but was he stretching to reach it and could not keep his header down as it cleared the bar.

City were fortunate not to go behind at the halfway point in the half when Quaresma tried a speculative shot from long range which took a wicked deflection off Huth's outstretched leg and looped over Sorensen, but hit the post and came back out.

The Potters responded by carving a clearcut opportunity at the other end as Pennant's cross skidded off the head of a Besiktas defender and fell to the unmarked Delap at the far post whose rising drive was only fractionally too high with Recber well beaten.

They did, however, go ahead in the 77th minute when referee Gautier awarded them a penalty when Sivok had his arms round Crouch and pulled the big striker down as he tried to latch onto a knock down from Huth when he rose to meet a corner.

Walters took on the responsibility of taking the spot kick and ruthlessly hammered the ball high into the net with Recber going the wrong way.

Besiktas then went in search of an equaliser and Sorensen was immediately called upon to make a vital save to keep out a powerful drive Simao.

Shotton then produced two important clearances with his head when Quaresma delivered two menacing crosses into the box, while at the other end Crouch tried his luck from fully 30 yards out but his effort drifted well wide of the target.

    Data provided by Press Association


    The Potters played out four replays to finally beat Bury in the FA Cup in 1955