Tony Pulis hailed goalscorer Peter Crouch after Stoke City held title-chasers Manchester City to a 1-1 draw at the Britannia Stadium.
The visitors were looking to move two points clear of rivals United with a win but the Potters took a shock lead through a wonder goal from the England international.
Crouch controlled the ball on his right foot and then swivelled to volley over Joe Hart and into the back of the net from the edge of the area.
And, despite the goal being cancelled out by Yaya Toure late on, Pulis had nothing but praise for the former Liverpool man’s performance.
“Crouch’s goal is fantastic,” he told reporters.
“He does that in training – it’s not just a one off. Technically he’s a very gifted young lad. I thought he was fantastic today, I thought he was the best player on the pitch.
“He led us with his spirit, his attitude, his commitment and his technical ability.”
The Welshman also praised the fans, claiming their support was as good as it had ever been.
“I thought our supporters were absolutely fantastic. I’ve managed this club for a long time and I thought the atmosphere was as good as any game I’ve been here (for).
“It shows why no other ground in the country can get close to us.”
And Pulis felt that his side could have taken all three points from the game had referee Howard Webb deemed a challenge by Gareth Barry on Glenn Whelan worthy of a penalty in the first half.
“We were disappointed [in the] first half we never got a penalty for Barry’s challenge on Whelan, (it) was a definite penalty.
“We’re disappointed because (referee) Howard (Webb) gets a good view of it and I think the linesman does.”
Manchester City coach David Platt believes they can still win the title.
Roberto Mancini sent out his deputy as he was still seething from dropping points and Platt refused to believe mind games from the Italian and his Old Trafford adversary Sir Alex Ferguson will play a role in the title race.
“The fact of the matter is Sir Alex and Roberto and whoever’s involved in it, because we’re in a title race, are going to have to answer questions,” Platt said.
“The be all and end all will be about 11 players going out on a pitch and getting results. It’s not about words, words won’t win the league.
“If we have more points than them at the end of the season people will perceive (Mancini’s) won the war of words, and if it’s the other way around people will perceive Sir Alex has won it. It’s actually inconsequential.”
Manchester United could only manage a 1-1 draw at the Britannia Stadium and Platt insisted that the result will not necessarily prove detrimental.
“I’m happy with the performance and Roberto’s happy with the performance of the entire season,” Platt said.
“As I said before it’s a difficult place to come to. People will say it’s two points lost but if we win the league by one point perhaps we’ll look back at this and say it was a good point.”
Platt also hailed Crouch’s opener but insisted that it was a result of direct football.
“It’s a great goal,” Platt acknowledged.
“It’s route one, it comes from the goalkeeper. It’s what you expect but as soon as it’s left his foot it’s on target and it’s going in the back of the goal.”
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