City secure top-four spot
Crouch own-goal ensures City will participate in the Champions League
By Jamie Casey. Last Updated: 11/05/11 11:39am
Crouch: Scored in the wrong end in the only goal of the game.
Peter Crouch's unfortunate own goal ensured Manchester City are guaranteed a top-four Premier League finish following a 1-0 win over Tottenham.
The result moves City to within two points of second-placed Arsenal, and assures them a place in the UEFA Champions League qualification third-round at the very least.
City required only one goal to settle the contest, and it came on the half-hour mark as James Milner fizzed in a low cross following a short corner, with Crouch inadvertently directing it into his own net.
The irony in Crouch scoring the goal was inescapable as, at the very same end last term, the England forward sent Tottenham on a rollercoaster Champions League journey with the goal that sealed their top-four finish last season.
Defeat leaves Tottenham in sixth place, two points behind Liverpool, who they face at Anfield this weekend in a head-to-head battle for the final Europa League qualification spot.
City can now look forward to Saturday's FA Cup final with Stoke knowing an end to their 35-year wait for a trophy will complete a perfect season and halt speculation surrounding boss Roberto Mancini's future.
Even without Carlos Tevez, who appeared late on from the bench ahead of Saturday's Wembley showpiece, Mancini was still able to call upon the dynamic services of David Silva, who threatened danger at every turn.
Luka Modric went for accuracy instead of power as he connected with Aaron Lennon's square ball, but failed to find the target as his shot rolled agonisingly wide.
For the goal, Spurs failed to track Milner's run after he had taken a short corner to Adam Johnson, allowing him to stride down the by-line and deliver a powerful, low cross to the near post.
Under pressure from the superb Joleon Lescott, Crouch stuck out a boot instinctively, only to steer it past Carlo Cudicini, who was standing in for the injured Heurelho Gomes.
City had only created one other first-half chance of note and it was hardly a surprise Silva was the architect, squaring for Edin Dzeko. The Bosnian's effort was on target but Cudicini palmed it away.
There have been a number of decent performers for City this season but few have been as consistent as Hart.
And, after being relatively unemployed during the opening period, he made a telling contribution right at the start of the second half as Steven Pienaar met Lennon's far-post cross with a firm header.
Wrong-footed, Hart quickly adjusted his feet to make an excellent save to his left, denying Tottenham an equaliser.
A sense of panic swept round the ground as Spurs piled on the pressure, which only grew as Rafael van der Vaart and Lennon threatened from decent positions.
Yet it was City who came closest to grabbing a second goal, only for William Gallas to brilliantly turn away substitute Patrick Vieira's goalbound effort.
Tottenham tried to respond but could muster nothing worthwhile thereafter, and they are now outsiders to even finish fifth.
Tevez will be fit for that after a late substitute appearance, having done as much as anyone to ensure City are back amongst Europe's elite for the first time in 43 years.
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