Peter Crouch says Gary Neville’s infamous celebration for Manchester United against Liverpool had a demoralising effect on the Anfield dressing room.
Peter Crouch said “In January 2006, we played United at Old Trafford. We controlled the game and had done enough to win but, in stoppage time, Rio Ferdinand left us shattered when he scored the only goal. Losing like that was sickening but what made it even harder to take was Gary Neville’s celebration, when he raced across the pitch to jump up and down in front of our fans. I had been substituted late on and from where I was on the bench, it felt like he was coming over to celebrate in front of me. That was third time in four matches Rafa Benitez had lost to United. When we were then drawn against them in the FA Cup, having won at Portsmouth, a few groans greeted the prospect of another meeting with them.”
Crouch ended up scoring the winner for Liverpool in the game but still has a scar from his clash with Nemanja Vidic. The striker says scoring in the game made him realise just how big it is to both sets of fans.
Peter Crouch said: “Each time I look in the mirror I see a scar above my left eye that makes me smile. It was the consequence of one of my best days, a reminder of the enormity of an occasion. Nemanja Vidic gave it to me at Anfield in February 2006, during a fifth round FA Cup tie between Liverpool and Manchester United. “He missed the ball and headed me, just before half-time, and I needed quite a bit of treatment. Thank goodness he never got anywhere near me in the 18th minute. That was the moment I fully came to appreciate the power of this particular fixture when I scored a goal that fans, to this day, want to talk about to me.”
In a close game that Liverpool arguably had the better of, it was Ferdinand’s goal that proved the difference between the two sides and prolonged Rafa Benitez’s poor record against Sir Alex Ferguson. Crouch admitted that, when his side were subsequently drawn against United in the FA Cup, there was some hesitation due to the Premier League game. Neville ran the length of the pitch at Old Trafford in 2006 to celebrate in front of Liverpool fans after Rio Ferdinand’s late winner for United.
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