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Crouch fires for Stoke

22 December 2013, 16:37

Stoke-on-Trent - Peter Crouch tormented his former club Aston Villa as the Stoke striker's second half goal clinched a 2-1 victory at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.

Mark Hughes' side took the lead through Charlie Adam's goal soon after the break before Villa equalised thanks to Libor Kozak, who capitalised on a horrible mistake from Erik Pieters.

But Pieters' blushes were spared when former England forward Crouch, who spent two years at Villa earlier in his career, restored Stoke's lead in the 70th minute.

That was enough to give Stoke back-to-back home wins in the Premier League and lift them above Villa into 10th place in the table.

Villa boss Paul Lambert chose to leave struggling striker Christian Benteke out of his squad but the visitors still began brightly, creating the first chance when Ashley Westwood's cross was headed goalwards by Nathan Baker.

Asmir Begovic grasped it at the second attempt and the Stoke goalkeeper was also behind Aleksander Tonev's volley from the edge of the box.

Five minutes later Marc Wilson picked up a booking, although Villa thought it should have been red.

Wilson's poor touch just outside the area let in Andreas Weimann and Villa appealed in vain that the defender was the last man when he brought down the forward.

Marko Arnautovic was the man to make way as Adam came on for the start of the second half, and it took the Stoke playmaker only six minutes to break the deadlock.

Ciaran Clark was shown a yellow card for a crude foul on Jonathan Walters and Geoff Cameron's free-kick was headed on by Crouch to Adam, who took the ball on his chest, turned past Baker and placed his shot beyond Brad Guzan.

Villa's equaliser came out of nothing in the 66th minute as Guzan pumped a long ball forward.

Stoke looked to have dealt with it but Pieters tried to head the ball back to Begovic and only succeeded in setting up Kozak, who gratefully accepted the gift with a cool finish.

But Villa were level for only four minutes before Crouch restored Stoke's lead.

Glenn Whelan found Cameron down the right, and when Guzan and Chris Herd tried to cut out his cross, the ball fell to Crouch in front of an empty net and he slotted home despite a suspicion of handball.



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