Tottenham Hotspur qualified for next seasons Champions League at the expense of Manchester City, they clinched the remarkable feat with a Peter Crouch goal earning a 1-0 victory away at Eastland`s.
Champions League football, the pinnacle, the holy grail of club football. For both club`s their hard working, energy sapping season came down to one fixture, such a monumental occasion that would have the world`s greatest players quivering in fear. The top four monopoly of Chelsea, United, Arsenal and Liverpool was about to be breached, Liverpool had slipped up dramatically and it was up to either Spurs or City to earn their coveted place. Despite all the ups and downs the clubs will have endured; manager removals, disappointing derby defeats and player sales today could have avenged all misery.
For Tottenham, this was already an unbelievable season, their pre-season goal would have probably involved a fight for Europa League football, but they have far surpassed their expectations. Defeating title challengers at the top of their game, spending less money in comparison to their competitors and having key players sidelined, Spurs had worked their magic to end up in the hunt. In Contrast, Manchester City could have perhaps been excused for believing this was the year, the money was spent, the players were brought in and all the talking and playing had come down to a home fixture where they could seal their own fate. The pundits early season favourites to break the monopoly had come so close.
The match lived up to all the hype, with so much depending on this fixture it was only fitting the team who deserved the glory, the side who didn`t “bottle it” would end up victorious. For once a poor refereeing performance didn`t crush hearts it was instead the opponent`s superiority, even though it was marginal it was still apparent. Spurs have a solid nucleus to their side, players performing at their highest potential, not guilty of lack of effort and a manager who can certainly bring out the best in his side. We were slightly unfortunate tonight in the fact we hadn`t played poorly, we didn`t turn in a performance that would usually end in defeat, but we had come up against fierce opponents. Any mistake would be punished, a lack of effort would have been seized upon and chances would have been taken.
The score-line 1-0 slightly flattered ourselves, Tottenham were outstanding and only their profligacy in front of goal kept us in the game. We had chances ourselves but none as clear cut as the away side.
City had started the evening brighter, there was a certain spark and determination to end all our previous failures. Our football was endearing, we were quick, looking energetic and playing with flair. Tevez looked like a man possessed early on, skipping challenges with ease but failing to take the initiative. Bellamy was proving a nemesis and Johnson was silkier than ever.
However, Tottenham were solid, they don`t give goals away and something spectacular was needed to break down the resistance of Gomes, Dawson, King and Assou-Ekotto. They also had a target man willing to chase down, jump bravely into tackles and put his head where it hurts. That man, Crouch, had a great chance to score the first, his persistence allowed him a march on Kompany where he bundled a header onto the post.
The urgency had to be with ourselves, a win was needed and this allowed Tottenham`s pace and creativity to take us on, on the counter attack. The ball would be lumped to Crouch where 90% of the time he would either win the ball himself or create a chance for his team-mate.
Johnson’s well struck shot allowed us to believe we were in the ascendency but it was extremely frightening how dangerous and suspect we looked when facing a rampaging attack.
Our attacking looked like gaining rewards, the numbers were available but we couldn`t quite muster the intelligence and decision making that was needed. The longer the game progressed the more Tottenham were causing us problems. With Crouch`s header and Bale`s shot coming close in the first half, it was Defoe`s turn to be denied, this time by a fantastic Fulop save, the loaned keeper also had to be at his best to prevent Crouch scoring his second header. Nevertheless, Fulop could only do so much and after thwarting another attack Crouch was on hand to pick up the rebound and head home. The travelling fans were sent delirious, it was only a matter of ten minutes now until they secured the victory and Champions League football.
It was deserved, our inconsistent all season has let us down, but fifth should not be taken lightly. We have drastically improved but Spurs have probably been the better team over the season and the table doesn`t lie. This was an extremely hard outcome to swallow, the fans and players looked crushed but the focus now has to be on improving on this milestone next season.
It speaks volumes for your keeper to be man of the match, but he was. He kept us in the game for so long preventing great chances for Spurs. Distribution needs improving though.
Another energetic display, he was often left alone in tough situations but gave it his best for 90 minutes. Some really good defensive work and decision making.
Crouch was obviously a tough competitor with his size, but he had the better of both Centre backs. Toure provided strong tackling and good heading when needed though.
VK had the best of Defoe and endured a really good battle with Crouch. Another good performance.
Proved sturdy competition for a very quick winger in Lennon. He tackled well and helped going forward as much as possible.
Skilful in parts and he created good opportunities. I feel he is unfortunate to make way every occasion.
Battled very hard again. Some people don’t understand the ground he covers and how much he prevents his opponent playing. Like he didn’t give Milner a sniff he kept Modric quiet. He is a defensive midfielder and does his job superbly.
Was reasonably steady till he was removed.
Fast, exciting and unfortunate not to create an opening. Had the better of Kaboul but lacked support.
Started brilliantly, skipping challenges and taking them on by himself. He drifted to deep as the game progressed and in the end tried to do a bit too much on his own.
Very poor. He lost every header to Dawson and again operated wide too much. He was afraid of the physical battle and neve rlooked at the races.
Came on and did what was asked.
Couldn’t influence too much with little time. Assou-Ekotto played very well.
I’m not against him like many, but bringing him on didn’t add anything. Himself and Ade looked clueless together for obvious reasons.