Crouch scores to break goal drought; first goal in seven months

Peter Crouch broke his goal drought today, scoring to lead Liverpool to a 3-0 victory over Wigan at Anfield. Crouch appeared to score twice, although the first in the 19th minute was disputed when Wigan goalkeeper Mike Pollitt palmed the ball into his own net. Crouch left no doubt in the 42nd, chipping the ball over Pollitt's head.

The 6-foot-7 (2-meter) English striker had gone seven months without scoring for his club or national team. His last goal had come on a penalty on May 7 playing with Southampton. Luis Garcia capped the scoring in the 70th minute.

The victory was Liverpool's sixth straight in the league, improving the Reds to 28 points and moving them temporarily into second place behind Chelsea. Wigan stayed on 25 points and has dropped three straight league games.

Chelsea leads the Premier League with 37 points. Seven more games were scheduled later Saturday with Manchester United and Arsenal in action _ and both capable of overtaking Liverpool in the standings.

In late games: Blackburn vs. Everton; Bolton vs. Arsenal; Chelsea vs. Middlesbrough; Manchester United vs. Portsmouth; Newcastle vs. Aston Villa; Tottenham vs. Sunderland; West Brom vs. Fulham.

On Sunday, it's Charlton vs. Manchester City. Birmingham hosts West Ham on Monday.Crouch, who moved from Southampton on a 7 million-pound (US$12 million; Ђ10.3 million) transfer, scored in the 19th and 42nd minutes. His first goal was controversial.

He broke from midfield and shot from 20 meters (yards). The ball deflected off Wigan's Leighton Baines, looping high into the air. Pollitt attempted to clear the ball over the crossbar but, instead, palmed it into the net. There was no debate on the second. Taking a pass and narrowly keeping himself on side, Crouch chipped the ball over the head of Pollitt, who raced out attempting to block his shot. Asked if he would claim the first goal, Crouch replied: "Of course." Garcia made it 3-0 when he chested the ball into the goal off a header from Spanish teammate Fernando Morientes. Saturday's games came with George Best's funeral as a backdrop.

More than 100,000 fans said a bittersweet goodbye to Best, the Manchester United star who died last week after a long battle with alcohoi, the AP reported. Best, 59, received a state-style funeral inside Stormont Parliamentary Building, Northern Ireland's most impressive public space on a hill overlooking the city, in the biggest display of public mourning ever experienced in this British territory of 1.7 million. A.M.

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