Crouch treble sends Spurs into Europe's big time
Tottenham Hotspur romped into the group stages of the Champions League after Peter Crouch’s hat-trick at White Hart Lane inspired a 4-0 victory over Young Boys in the play-off second leg on Wednesday.
Harry Redknapp’s side trailed 3-2 from the first leg, but Crouch’s starring role and a controversial Jermain Defoe goal ensured they were able to cruise through 6-3 on aggregate.
Crouch opened the scoring early on, then Defoe netted even though replays showed he had handled in the build-up to the goal.
A header from Crouch increased Spurs’ lead after half-time and Gareth Bale, who had set up the first three goals, was brought down for a penalty, leading to Senad Lulic’s dismissal and Crouch stroked home his treble from the spot.
Now Spurs can look forward to Thursday’s draw for the lucrative group stages and the possibility of coming up against European giants like Real Madrid, Barcelona and defending champions Inter Milan.
Redknapp admitted it was a dream come true to lead Spurs into the Champions League for the first time.
“It’s fantastic, it’s a long time since Tottenham played in the top European competition,” he said.
“To get in the main competition and the group stages, when I came here that was the dream for me. We will give anybody a game. It is a tough place here and we want to progress as far as we can.”
In their first appearance in Europe’s top competition since the 1962 campaign, Spurs’ hopes of progressing looked slim as they fell 3-0 behind in the first leg.
But two away goals gave them hope heading into a game that was so important to the club after their impressive fourth-place finish in the Premier League last season.
The importance of victory meant Defoe put off groin surgery to play—instead of missing the game he will be absent for England’s opening two European Championship qualifiers.
Defoe partnered Crouch in attack, while Ledley King and Aaron Lennon returned after missing the first leg on Young Boys’ artificial pitch.
The opener came after five minutes from a striker with Champions League experience from his spell at Liverpool.
Crouch’s last strike in the competition was three years ago but it was the fourth goal in a straightforward win over Porto and these goals had much more significance.
Bale set up the chance when his own corner was cleared back to him, with the Wales international floating the ball to the far post where Crouch climbed to head home.
Edging ahead of away goals settled Spurs and they went in search of leading outright.
It needed Ammar Jemal to bravely block when Benoit Assou-Ekotto unleashed a powerful volley from 30 yards out.
They were given an injury scare when goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes aggravated a groin injury, but Defoe’s goal just after the half-hour put them in control.
Bale set it up again, this time with a ball over the top of the Young Boys defence and Defoe appeared to use his arm to push the ball past Francois Affolter before powerfully finishing past Marco Wolfli.
Despite the blow of conceding a second goal, Young Boys built momentum towards the end of the half and had two chances, starting with Xavier Hochstrasser looping a volley wide.
Then Gomes and Michael Dawson were guilty of leaving Moreno Contanzo’s cross to each other, with Henri Bienvenu heading off target.
Gomes came off at the break for Carlo Cudicini, who was making his first appearance since his serious motorbike crash last season.
The Italian was called into action when Henri Bienvenu drilled a shot from inside the area.
Bale set up the third when he curled in a corner and Crouch rose above the Young Boys defence to power home.
Bale also set up the fourth when he was brought down in the area and Lulic was dismissed for two bookings.
Crouch sent the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot and grabbed the match ball.—AFP