TOTTENHAM manager Harry Redknapp has praised Peter Crouch for the way he has managed to put his red card nightmare behind him.
Crouch described his 15th minute expulsion from Tottenham's Champions League clash against Real Madrid as the lowest point of his career.
The England striker put in two reckless challenges to earn himself a sending off before Jose Mourinho's men ran out 4-0 winners to all but end the Londoners' hopes of making the last four.
Crouch showed little sign that the episode had affected him yesterday though as he knocked in two headers against Stoke to help Spurs achieve a 3-2 win - their first victory in almost two months.
Redknapp admitted he had worried that the 30-year-old would be left reeling psychologically from the sending off, but any thoughts he had of dropping the striker quickly disappeared when he realised that he had definitely put the matter behind him.
"I was worried about him and how he would feel but he hasn't moped, he has just got on with it," Redknapp said.
"I could've left him out. He organised the sweep for the (Grand) National today. I knew there was no problem with him when I walked in and he said: 'Do you want a ticket for the sweep, gaffer?'"
Crouch headed home a Roman Pavlyuchenko short corner for his first against Tony Pulis' side yesterday before he met Tom Huddlestone's long cross with a bullet header that beat Asmir Begovic for his second.
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(el 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."
Luka Modric was also on target yesterday for Redknapp's team, who now trail fourth-place Manchester City by three points with seven games remaining.
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 yesterday.
"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."
Redknapp's side won five out of their last eight matches at the end of last season to beat Manchester City to the final Champions League qualification spot.
The 64-year-old now hopes his squad can maintain the momentum gained from yesterday's win and overcome their rivals again this year.
"Last year we got knocked out of the FA Cup in the semi-finals and everyone said that was the end of our season and we came back from that," Redknapp said.
"On the Wednesday after we beat Arsenal, beat Chelsea on Saturday and then we went to Man City and won.
"That's what we did and that's what we have to do again."
Aaron Lennon, who withdrew from the Madrid match at the last minute through illness, missed yesterday's win but Redknapp is optimistic that he will be back for Wednesday's clash.
Tony Pulis watched Matthew Etherington and Kenwyne Jones score two superb goals, but he admits he will not rest until his men grab the two points that will guarantee them top-flight football next year.
"We need to get the 40 as quick as we can so we stop looking over shoulders," the Stoke boss said.
"As soon as you get 40 you stop relying on other results which we are now."