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Crouch Off as Chelsea Eases Past Liverpool
Independent, December 20th, 2007 5:15PM

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Liverpool striker Peter Crouch was dismissed Wednesday night as Rafa's Reds lost their second straight, 2-0, to Chelsea in the Carling Cup quarterfinals. The Liverpool striker was sent off almost immediately after Frank Lampard's deflected shot put Chelsea ahead, his uncharacteristic two-footed lunge drawing a straight red card from referee Martin Atkinson. Crouch leapt at John Obi Mikel after what he described as two attempts by the Chelsea player to stud him in the knee. After the match, Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez accused Atkinson of failing to protect his player.

It was an uncharacteristically heated affair, especially when you consider that the Carling Cup is often the last trophy on the wish list of the Premier League's biggest clubs. Both teams rested most of their regular starters: Avram Grant made seven changes from the team that lost, 1-0, to Arsenal on Sunday, while Liverpool made nine changes to the team beaten by Manchester United.

In the end, Chelsea was the better side. Liverpool created little, while Lampard's goal and Crouch's sending off left the Blues comfortably in the lead. Andriy Shevchenko capped the victory in the 90th minute with a thunderbolt at the near post after a Michael Ballack knock-down. Ballack, on as a substitute in the 68th minute, was making his season debut.

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