Spurs reach promised land
A Peter Crouch hat-trick helped book Spurs' place in the group stage of the Champions League as they beat Young Boys 6-3 on aggregate.
By James Dall
Last Updated: 26/08/10 1:25pm
A Peter Crouch hat-trick helped book Tottenham Hotspur's place in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history as they recorded a 6-3 aggregate victory over Young Boys at White Hart Lane on Wednesday evening.
After being beaten 3-2 in the first leg of their third qualifying round tie last week, Spurs overcame their Swiss opponents in the second meeting to ensure they will play in the European Cup proper for the first time in 48 years.
Crouch hit home three goals while Jermain Defoe also got in on the scoring act in a 4-0 triumph on the night, with the Premier League club largely comfortable throughout the 90 minutes.
Manager Harry Redknapp partnered Defoe and Crouch in attack, with the former expected to play a maximum of 60 minutes due to scheduled groin surgery. Ledley King was also called upon, such was the importance of the tie. For Young Boys, boss Vladimir Petkovic named an unchanged team to that which beat Spurs 3-2 last Tuesday.
Tottenham restored aggregate parity as early as the fifth minute when a Gareth Bale cross from the right flank, after a corner was half-cleared, found Crouch unmarked at the far post, with the beanpole striker nodding a low header home from close range.
After a flying start that boasted much tempo, with the visitors struggling, Spurs temporarily took their foot off the gas in the knowledge that they led on away goals. And their next threatening attempt at goal did not come until the 21st minute when Benoit Assou-Ekotto's rasping drive clattered into the midriff of Ammar Jemal.
The height of Crouch continued to cause problems for Young Boys, and a flick-on by the striker almost created an opportunity for Huddlestone. Up the other end, a ropey pass from Wilson Palacios ultimately resulted in a first corner for the away team, but the delivery came to nothing.
In the 32nd minute, Tottenham went 2-0 up on the night courtesy of a controversial goal by Defoe. Bale dinked a through ball into the England international, who controlled with his arm before steadying himself and then unleashing a fizzing finish that clipped in off the foot of the post.
Defoe should really have added a second to his tally for the evening just moments after netting, but he dragged an effort wide of the far post.
Then came Young Boys' best chance of the match thus far as Xavier Hochstrasser's dipping shot dropped just off target.
Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes had been struggling with an injury throughout much of the first half, although Redknapp appeared reluctant to replace him before the break. And that decision almost came back to haunt him on 41 minutes when a hesitant looking Gomes and a confused looking Michael Dawson almost let Henri Bienvenu score.
Gomes was replaced for the second period by Carlo Cudicini, the Italian making his first competitive appearance since being injured in a motorcycle crash last November. In the 50th minute, after a typically speedy run from Aaron Lennon, Bale's whipped free-kick almost landed Spurs their third of the night.
Palacios was booked for what the referee considered to be a robust aerial challenge on Hochstrasser. Young Boys were growing into the game, and on 54 minutes, Bienvenu should arguably have greater tested Cudicini, but the forward's stab at goal lacked venom.
A wonderful intervention denied Defoe his second of the contest when defender Christoph Spycher stretched to clip the ball away. A minute later, a Spurs corner caused havoc in Young Boys' penalty area, and Crouch should have scored only to see his shot from a few yards out blocked by keeper Marco Wolfli.
But in the 61st minute, Crouch did make it 5-3 on aggregate when he attacked a Bale corner and thundered a header into the back of the net. Then followed Defoe's exit ahead of his surgery as Roman Pavlyuchenko, booked just seconds after coming on, replaced his striking counterpart.
And the result was put beyond any doubt when Bale was chopped down in the box by Senad Lulic with 13 minutes remaining. The Bosnian was dismissed for denying the Welshman a goalscoring opportunity, before Crouch stepped up to complete his hat-trick from the penalty spot.
Crouch very almost scored his fourth goal only to be denied by a solid stop by Wolfli. But, despite Crouch being hands on head post the save, it mattered little, as now attention for money-boosted Spurs turns towards Thursday's draw in Monaco.