Crouch goal eases Liverpool past toothless PSV
Peter Crouch scored the winner as Liverpool set up an all-English Champions League semi-final with Chelsea by beating PSV Eindhoven.sports Updated: Apr 12, 2007 20:51 IST
Peter Crouch scored the winner as Liverpool set up an all-English Champions League semi-final with Chelsea by beating PSV Eindhoven 1-0 in a low key encounter on Wednesday.
Crouch's fifth goal in four games secured the win on a night when PSV never looked capable of creating European Cup history by becoming the first team to overturn a 3-0 first leg deficit.
The Dutch side had debutant Dirk Marcellis harshly sent off in the second half but their dream of a shock win had evaporated long before his departure.
Crouch scored shortly after Marcellis's dismissal with a clinical close-range 67th minute volley from Robbie Fowler's cut back.
Substitute Fowler had collected the ball from a smart save by keeper Gomes to keep a deflection from his own defender Carlos Salcido from rolling into the net.
Liverpool now face Chelsea in a repeat of the 2005 semi-final that Benitez's side won 1-0 on aggregate before going on to lift the trophy in Istanbul by beating AC Milan on penalties.
The possibility of a repeat of that final is also alive after MIlan saw off Bayern Munich 2-0 in Munich for a 4-2 aggregate victory. Milan meet Manchester United in the other semi.
"Its always a special occasion (when Liverpool play Chelsea). We have had that tie before and lets hope it's the same outcome," Crouch told Sky Sports.
"All the boys are hungry for it again. We have seen what a special occasion the final is and I want to get there for the first time."
He added: "This was a job well done more than a spectacle. We did most of the work in the first leg and it was a case of seeing it out. It was a strange game."
PSV coach Ronald Koeman, who said before the match his side had no realistic chance of saving the tie, said afterwards: "In the circumstances I can't complain and am largely satisfied. We maintained our organisation and didn't give away many chances.
"We hardly created anything ourselves, but that is always difficult against Liverpool, you have to be in real good shape to beat them."
It was the third time Liverpool had beaten PSV in the competition this season after a 0-0 draw and 2-0 home win in the group stage and PSV's only chance of pulling off a shock comeback in this quarter-final depended on an early goal and a third minute opportunity did come their way.
Philip Cocu's cross from the left was met by the head of Jefferson Farfan, but keeper Pepe Reina was alert to push the ball over the bar.
Liverpool, who rested captain Steven Gerrard and influential defender Jamie Carragher, also lost Craig Bellamy to a knee injury in the 17th minute.
Fowler replaced him but it was his strike partner Crouch who managed to reach a Jermaine Pennant cross in the 26th minute only to see his volley beaten away by the keeper.
In an uninspiring game it took until half-time for Liverpool to threaten again with Bolo Zenden bending a free kick inches wide. Farfan troubled Reina just after half time with a fierce low drive which the Spaniard turned around the post.
Marcellis was sent off in the 64th for a challenge on Zenden that barely merited the straight red card it earned.
Liverpool took advantage three minutes later to score and Crouch missed a chance to add a second by weakly heading over bar.
Pennant looked set to score in the final minutes only to see Gomes twice deny him with close range saves.
But it was a game Liverpool supporters will struggle to remember if they do fight their way through to a sixth European Cup win in Athens in May.