Tottenham reach Champions League group stages
Tottenham Hotspur disposed of Swiss side Young Boys in emphatic fashion to seal their place in Thursday’s Champions League group stage draw.
Peter Crouch scored an impressive hat-trick in front of a packed White Hart Lane, adding to a neat first-half finish from Jermaine Defoe. Spurs were imperious throughout and lay to rest the ghosts of their defeat in Switzerland last week.
Young Boys travelled to London in confident mood following their 3-2 first leg victory at the Stade de Suisse in Basel. Manager Vladimir PetkoviÃ„”¡ set his team out to attack rather than defending their fragile lead in north London.
It was an admirable tactic, but it ultimately failed to pay dividends as within just five minutes Crouch had delivered the early lead. Gareth Bale, who was once again the stand-out performer, delivered a delicious cross which Crouch guided into the far right hand corner of Marco Wolfli’s net.
On the half hour mark Defoe and Bale exchanged passes before the Welshman produced a deft chipped pass which the England international collected and slotted in off the near post.
The visitors looked flimsy with wingers Bale and Aaron Lennon regularly testing the Swiss side’s full backs.
Henri Bienvenu wasted Young Boy’s best opening of the match in the 36th minute. Confusion between Michael Dawson and Heurelho Gomes afforded Beinvenu a free header but the striker glanced his effort wide.
There was concern over Gomes, who suffered an injury complaint late in the first half, but Young Boys failed to trouble the struggling goalkeeper and Redknapp duly replaced the Brazilian with substitute Carlo Cudicini at half time.
With Young Boys searching for a path back into the tie, Tottenham began to exploit the Swiss sides’ weary defence. Crouch added a third with just under half an hour to play when he rose highest to meet Bale’s corner.
With 12 minutes left to play the Welsh winger, who played a part in every goal of the night, was brought down by a clumsy challenge from Senad Lulic in the penalty area. Crouch inevitably assumed spot-kick duty and powerfully drove his effort past the helpless Wolfi to complete his hat-trick.
After the match, the England striker spoke of his delight with his side’s performance and the prospect of playing in against European football’s elite.
“This is massive, we played extremely well and we deserved the bonus of Champions League football,” said Crouch.
“That’s why we worked so hard last season. We want massive games. We want Real Madrid and Inter Milan. You don’t know how good you are until you play against the best.”