Crouch happy to make amends
Crouch came in for severe criticism for the red card he picked up for two rash challenges in the early stages of Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final first-leg clash at the Bernabeu. He went a long way to answering those critics on Saturday by scoring two headers to put Spurs on their way to a 3-2 Premier League victory over Stoke at White Hart Lane. The striker admitted that he was "gutted" to be missing out on Wednesday's second leg, and conceded that he had never felt lower during his 13-year career than following his red card in Tuesday's 4-0 thrashing in the Spanish capital. "That's as low as I've felt just because of the sheer importance of the match," Crouch said. "It was the quarter-final of the Champions League at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid. With all those things put together, it was very disappointing. "I watched the game in one of the referee's rooms with Rafa(van der Vaart), who came off at half-time. "It was really frustrating. With each goal that went in, it felt like I had cost the team." Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp took Crouch aside at the club's Chigwell base and told him to forget the incident, despite its costly consequences. The move seemed to work as he doubled his league tally to four goals against a physical Stoke team. The former Liverpool man nodded home a Roman Pavlyuchenko short corner for his first before he met Tom Huddlestone's long cross with a bullet header that beat Asmir Begovic for his second. Crouch revealed that he was so desperate to make up for his red card that he almost had to resort to begging Redknapp to start him on Saturday. "I was dying to play," he said. "I was thinking of saying (to Redknapp): 'Please, please, play me' to try and make amends and help get three points. "I told myself before the game: 'Don't do anything stupid' and I scored a couple of goals so thankfully it worked well." Crouch's sending off had drawn a lot of criticism, some of it from Spurs fans, and there were signs that he would not be given a good reception when his name was greeted with a few boos as the teams were announced over the public address system prior to the warm-ups. Nevertheless, the home support got behind the 30-year-old, and he now hopes they have forgiven him. "I said sorry to the players and the manager but I had a chance to say sorry to all the fans as well," Crouch added "Hopefully I have repaid them a little bit with two goals." Crouch denied that the reason behind his two fouls on Marcelo and Sergio Ramos were because he was too pumped up for the game. "I have played in lots of big games before. They were genuinely honest tackles," he said. "I thought I could get the ball. (Stoke winger) Jermaine Pennant did a tackle in the first half that was exactly the same and he just got a warning. That's Premier League football." The victory, which was Spurs' first in almost two months, puts Redknapp's side within three points of fourth-placed Manchester City, and Crouch believes the scene is set for a tussle between the two sides that locked horns in the battle for the final Champions League qualifying spot last season. "We have enough ability and belief to qualify," Crouch said. "Last season no-one believed that we could get there over Man City and it's probably similar again this season."