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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jul 4, 2006

Players too tired for penalties - Crouch

Peter Crouch has blamed exhaustion - caused by Wayne Rooney's sending-off - for England's dismal performance in their World Cup penalty shoot-out with Portugal.

The Liverpool striker believes the additional tiredness brought on by having to play for an hour with 10 men after Rooney's red card meant Sven-Goran Eriksson's side were not at their best when it came to taking spot-kicks.

Crouch's club team-mates Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher plus Frank Lampard all failed to net as Portugal went through 3-1 on penalties.

He said: 'I honestly felt exhaustion set in at the end against Portugal. We'd played quite a lot of the game with 10 men and I think we took the penalties in a tired way.

'Everyone worked so hard and I genuinely feel everyone had given everything by the time we had to take the penalties. That definitely showed in the penalties we had to take.'

England are still picking up the pieces after losing their fifth shoot-out in a major competition in the past 16 years.

But Crouch insisted they could have done no more in terms of being as prepared as possible for the spot-kick drama in Gelsenkirchen.

He said: 'We have come in for criticism in the past for not practising penalties but I can assure you, we had been practising them all the time after going to Germany in early June - and before that.

'They had been going well in practice - but we were fresh then. We were in an empty stadium as well which is a different ball game to Saturday.

'When it goes to penalties it is a lottery and we came unstuck again on Saturday. It was a bitter blow to go out of the World Cup the way we did and afterwards a few of the lads were inconsolable.

'Everyone of us felt we could go all the way this time. We really felt we had the team to achieve that goal and it's such a shame it ended like it did.

'But when the dust has settled we have to pick ourselves up and go again.

'A semi-final would have been a dream but let's hope other chances come along to win it for myself and a few other lads.'